Goals are his life - Chelsea boss Conte delighted to see Costa back on target

Antonio Conte insists his faith in Diego Costa never wavered after Chelsea's top scorer got back on the goal trail against Southampton.

Diego Costa's work rate throughout his recent goal drought won deep admiration from Chelsea coach Antonio Conte.

Spain striker Costa scored for the first time in eight matches to give the Premier League leaders a two-goal cushion during the second half of Tuesday's match against Southampton, moving on to 50 career goals in England's top flight.

He added a superb second as Chelsea secured a 4-2 win to go seven points clear of Tottenham at the summit, with their nearest rivals in action against Crystal Palace on Wednesday.

"It's normal for the strikers that it is important to score. The goals are their life," he told a post-match news conference, having also seen Costa lay on the fifth-minute opener for Eden Hazard.

"But, for me, I've always said I've been pleased with his commitment, his work for the team. He always worked for the team.

"Sometimes he was unlucky in different circumstances, but I was always confident about him.

"After the Tottenham game, I said I'm sure he's keeping his goals for the final weeks of the season.

"Now he must continue. He's very important for us. His confidence is very important for us.

"He scored two very beautiful goals, good combination and technique between him and his team-mates."

The warm words made the rumoured rift between the two in January, when Costa was linked with a move to the Chinese Super League, seem a long time ago.

Conte did not wish to discuss the former Atletico Madrid star's long-term future, with his sole focus resting on the title race.

"I continue to repeat this concept: it's important to be focused on the moment because the moment is very important for all of us," he said.

"In this period, I'm reading a lot of speculation about every one of us. It's right to be focused.

"I'm sure my players are focused on our targets. It's normal at this part of the season to have someone who wants to put problems in your team, to create also disorder, but we must be stronger than this speculation.

"We must be compact and think our target is really important than the other teams'."

One player who will not be around next season is club captain John Terry, whose late substitute cameo was his first Chelsea appearance since announcing he would end his career-long association with the club earlier this month.

"John, for us, is a really important player," Conte added "He is doing a great job this season. For sure, it's not easy for him.

"This season, he's not playing a lot. Above all, for this, I want to thank John but he knows my admiration for him.

"He's helping me a lot, but not only me. Also the team, every single player, and he's always available to accept every one of my decisions.

"When you have this type of player, you must be pleased. For me, it will be a great loss next season to lose a player like this."

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