Costa leads Chelsea as Drogba returns to Stamford Bridge

AP

Diego Costa kept up the prolific start to his Chelsea career on Saturday, setting the title favorite on its way to a 2-0 win over Leicester and a second straight victory to open the Premier League.

The Spain striker scored on his Chelsea debut in a 3-1 win over Burnley on Monday and was back in the goals five days later, breaking down Leicester’s stubborn resistance at Stamford Bridge in the 63rd minute.

Belgium winger Eden Hazard’s solo effort in the 77th ensured Chelsea has maximum points after two games against teams promoted from the second-tier League Championship.

Swansea is the only other side with back-to-back wins after beating Burnley 1-0, while Arsenal has four points after scoring twice in the final seven minutes through Aaron Ramsey and Olivier Giroud to recover for a 2-2 draw at Everton.

West Ham won 3-1 at managerless Crystal Palace while the games between Aston Villa-Newcastle and Southampton-West Bromwich Albion finished 0-0.

Didier Drogba was given a standing ovation from the Chelsea fans when he came on as a second-half substitute for his first home match in his second spell with the London club.

But the Stamford Bridge fans have a new goalscoring star in Costa.

Signed for £32 million from Atletico Madrid in the offseason, Costa is proving to be exactly the kind of ruthless finisher Chelsea was lacking last season as it came up short in the title race.

“I got the feeling in preseason that his adaptation would not be a big deal, he is an easy guy,” Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said. “His style of play has adapted to our needs, so it has not been a problem.”

Cesc Fabregas had two assists in a man-of-the-match display against Burnley and he set up Hazard for the second goal against Leicester, with the winger collecting the ball on the left, cutting inside and drilling a low shot past Kasper Schmeichel into the corner.

“I thought we played exceptionally well in the first half but it’s about taking your chances when you get them,” Leicester manager Nigel Pearson said. “There are more positives today than there are negatives.”

Giroud, a halftime substitute, headed home with 40 seconds left of normal time to grab a point for Arsenal at Goodison Park, with Ramsey’s close-range goal starting the visitors’ fightback in the 83rd.

Goals by Seamus Coleman and Steven Naismith put Everton comfortably in front at halftime.

“We had a big test today and at halftime it was even a bigger test,” Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said. “We responded well.”

West Ham increased the early-season misery for Palace, which conceded a late goal to lose to Arsenal last weekend and is still without a manager following Tony Pulis’ resignation two days before the start of the season.

Goals by Argentine striker Mauro Zarate — on his debut — Stewart Downing and Carlton Cole secured West Ham’s first points of the season after losing 1-0 to Tottenham first time out.