Champions League: Chelsea boss defends call to cull Costa

Costa played just 16 minutes in Chelsea’s draw with Schalke at Stamford Bridge
CHELSEA 1 SCHALKE 04 1

CHELSEA manager Jose Mourinho last night revealed star striker Diego Costa will struggle to be part of their assault on both the Premier League and Champions League titles this term.

The Spain striker has hit seven goals in four Premier League games so far, including a hat-trick against Swansea on Saturday, yet was named among the substitutes against Schalke last night at Stamford Bridge.

The Blues paid the price, as they failed to win for the first time this season in all competitions, with Cesc Fabregas’s early goal cancelled out by Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.

But Mourinho stuck by his decision to leave out his talisman and indicated Costa could be set for more time on the bench.

“He is not in a condition to play three matches in one week,” said the Chelsea boss. “He has problems.

“When he plays one game he needs a week to recover to be in condition to start the next game. And now that we are playing Tuesday or Wednesday he can’t do it.

“He was not in a condition to do more than he did. The team I picked was the best situation for this game. If he had started maybe after 20 or 25 minutes I would have to change him.”

The Premier League pace-setters took the lead on 11 minutes when Fabregas stole the ball from Max Meyer and exchanged passes with Eden Hazard before finishing first time.

But Schalke, struggling in the Bundesliga with just one point from their opening three games, held their own and levelled on 62 minutes.

Fabregas, so often the architect of Chelsea’s positive play, was caught in possession deep inside Schalke’s half by Huntelaar, who fed Julian Draxler. The former Arsenal target burst forwards from inside his own half, then rolled Huntelaar back into possession before the Dutchman fired in low past Thibaut Courtois.

“We had more than a couple of chances to win the game but we got a point,” added Mourinho. “It is not the best result, but it is a result.”