Chelsea manager Antonio Conte described Diego Costa as an example to his team-mates after the Premier League leaders went 13 points clear with a 2-1 win at Stoke City.
The infamously feisty Costa, dropped in January after reports of a row with Conte, was left walking a disciplinary tightrope after being booked for simulation in the 16th minute of Saturday’s game at the Bet365 Stadium.
The controversial Spain striker was involved in numerous clashes with Stoke players, particularly centre-backs Ryan Shawcross and Bruno Martins Indi, but managed to remain on the pitch and Conte praised the way Costa refused to be baited.
“It’s not easy when you receive a yellow card after a few minutes,” said Conte, whose side prevailed courtesy of an 87th-minute winner by centre-back Gary Cahill.
“The rule is it’s normal to make a player angry and to get him to react and to commit another foul.
“I think Diego is showing not only in this game that you have to be very disciplined. Diego is showing himself to be a great player in this way.
“He showed me great commitment and showed he was playing for the team and not for himself. I want that from my players and that behaviour from my players.
“In the past sometimes he has been given two yellow cards. This season I’ve been pleased with him because of his behaviour.”