New 'Costa' zaps in solo goal

September 13, 2017
Chelsea's Davide Zappacosta, left, celebrates with his teammate Willian after scoring during their Champions League group C match against Qarabag at Stamford Bridge stadium in London yesterday.

LONDON, England (AP):

Who needs Diego Costa when you have Davide Zappacosta? On his full Chelsea debut, the wing back announced himself to Stamford Bridge in spectacular fashion with an audacious solo goal eclipsing anything the exiled striker Costa has produced in west London.

It was some way, too, for 2012 champion Chelsea to announce their return to the Champions League after failing to qualify last season. Zappacosta's 30th-minute goal was only the second in a 6-0 rout of Azerbaijani tournament newcomer Qarabag in their opening game in Group C.

The deadline-day signing from Torino started the run outside his own penalty area and surged down the field past two defenders before reaching the edge of the Qarabag penalty area where he caught goalkeeper Ibrahim Sehic off-guard with his strike.

Asked later if Chelsea had a new hero called Costa, Chelsea manager Antonio Conte replied in a flash: "Zappacosta".

Conte has been trying to avoid questions for months about Diego Costa, who is out of London as he agitates for a move to Atletico Madrid. No wonder Conte was relieved to be talking about Zappacosta, one of five changes from the side that beat Leicester in the Premier League at the weekend.

"He played a really good game but now he has to continue to work to improve," Conte said. "It was his first appearance at Stamford Bridge. It's not easy to totally change your sporting life in one week, but the answer was very good. He has said he wanted to cross, but he scored and it's important for us."

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