REUTERS - Chelsea striker Diego Costa is unlikely to win any 'fair play' awards this season but goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois says the fiery forward has become much better at controlling his temper despite relentless heavy treatment from opposing defenders.
Costa was booked for dissent in the 16th minute of Chelsea's 2-1 victory at Stoke on Saturday but showed impressive restraint for the rest of the game despite being fouled by Phil Bardsley and Bruno Martins Indi.
"When they kicked him, he remained calm and that's very good for us because in the worst case, he would have got a second yellow card and been out of the game," Courtois told British media.
"In some moments maybe Diego exaggerates a bit, but all of the time, they hit him quite well."
Costa, who has picked up six bookings in the league this season, has been a key figure in Premier League leaders Chelsea's campaign.
"After four or five 50-50 moments where the referee can whistle or not whistle, he gets a bit angry and gets a yellow card," Belgian international Courtois added.
"So it's important for him to stay calm and he's developed that a lot this season. "
Chelsea are 10 points clear at the top ahead of the international break and will host 16th-placed Crystal Palace on April 1.
(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)