THIBAUT COURTOIS has leapt to the defence of Chelsea striker Diego Costa after he was targeted by Stoke on Saturday.
The forward was booked for an angry reaction in the first half as the Potters snapped at his heels throughout.
It was Costa who had the last laugh though as Chelsea recorded a hard-fought 2-1 victory to maintain their 10 point lead at the top of the Premier League.
“They were very physical and it was hard to find our usual game,” Courtois said.
“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.”
Chelsea go into the international break in a commanding position in Antonio Conte’s first season in charge.
The Blues return to action against Crystal Palace on Saturday, April 1.