Chelsea striker Diego Costa: I'm marked by referees in England

Diego Costa has told ESPN he feels he is being unfairly targeted in England after the latest controversy surrounding his tackle on Adrian during Chelsea's win over West Ham on Monday.

Chelsea emerged 2-1 winners on Antonio Conte's Premier League debut courtesy of Costa's 89th-minute winner, but much of the postmatch analysis focused on whether the 27-year-old should have still been on the pitch after catching West Ham goalkeeper Adrian with his studs midway through the second half.

By the time Costa slid in on Adrian he had already been booked for approaching referee Anthony Taylor to protest a decision in the first half -- an offence that has this season been made automatically punishable by a yellow card in a bid to stamp out disrespect for Premier League officials.

Speaking to ESPN Brasil about the rule change after the game, he said: "I'm finding this out now, because it was the second time I went to speak to him [the referee] that he gave me a card straight away.

"I found it a bit strange but later on I understood and after the first half I apologised."

Sources told ESPN FC last season that a key factor in Costa's wider discontent in England is a sense of persecution by the British media as a result of his abrasive playing style, and he added: "Here I'm marked by referees, I'm going to be honest.

"People always have -- if I do anything, it's different to what any other footballer does, and we need to see this because people marked me and I have to deal with it and ask God that these things don't mess me up or take away opportunities of the game that happens with suspension."

After Monday's game, West Ham boss Slaven Bilic had described the tackle as not "reckless" or "deliberate" but "very late," while Conte defended his striker by saying Costa "is a passionate man and he puts passion into everything he does."

Adrian, meanwhile, took to Instagram on Tuesday to express relief that he had avoided serious injury in the challenge.

A source has told ESPN FC that Costa will not face retrospective punishment for the tackle as the referee saw it at the time and deemed it a challenge for the ball.