Chelsea's Diego Costa 'exaggerates' fouls at times - Thibaut Courtois
Thibaut Courtois has said that Diego Costa "exaggerates" the level of contact he receives from opposition defenders at times, but praised the striker for keeping his cool during Chelsea's battling 2-1 win over Stoke City on Saturday.
Costa endured a frustrating first half at the bet365 Stadium, becoming embroiled in numerous tussles with Stoke defenders and being booked for dissent by referee Anthony Taylor after protesting the official's failure to award him a free kick in the 17th minute.
Michy Batshuayi was sent to warm up by Antonio Conte shortly afterwards as a warning to Costa to keep his focus on the game, while Gary Cahill said after the match that he had spoken to his teammate on the pitch in a bid to calm him down.
"They were very physical and it was hard to find our usual game," Courtois said of Stoke. "They tried to put our players out of the game by doing that. They know Diego doesn't like it and he maybe starts to fight with people. Maybe they do this to get him a red card or something.
"In some moments maybe Diego exaggerates a bit as well, but I think most of the time they were hitting him quite well. After four or five 50-50 moments where the referee can whistle or not whistle, he gets a bit angry and gets a yellow card. So it's important for him to stay calm and he's developed that a lot this season.
"When they kicked him, he remained calm and that's very good for us because in the worst case, he would have got a second yellow card and been out of the game. It's a good job he remained calm and dealt with what happened to him and moved on.
"Diego is the type of guy who has a lot of energy and goes for every ball and he gets kicked as well. People know how he is as well and a lot of Stoke players got a yellow card for fouls on him. He was always calm and he does well for us."
Costa's performance improved in the second half at the bet365 Stadium and he hit the post in the final minutes as Chelsea threatened to extend their 2-1 lead. He has contributed 17 goals and five assists in 26 Premier League matches this season, including two in his last four games.
Liam is ESPN FC's Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.