Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink believes Juan Carlos Paredes is to blame for sparking a tussle with Diego Costa during the Blues' 0-0 draw at Watford on Wednesday night, as reported by Sky Sports.
The Dutchman has offered his take on what he saw from the touchline, suggesting the Ecuadorian struck the forward from behind before attempting to portray himself as the victim in the subsequent scuffle.
"It was very clear because we were very close, just 10 yards from our bench. Paredes punched Diego in his back, and after that they stumbled, and then Paredes brought his hands to his head and Diego was nowhere near his head.
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"They stumbled. I think this is something that we must not do, provocation to get someone off the pitch.”
Both men went into the book as a result of the clash, a just result according to Hiddink, who is yet to lose a match in his second spell in charge at Chelsea.
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"Happily the referee and the assistants saw that they didn't go into this provocation. There was no way that Diego was close to his face.”
Hiddink recalls Costa’s body language at the interval indicated the alleged ploy had failed to ruffle the volatile forward’s feathers, before claiming he would stand up for any of his players in a similar situation.
"He was calm [at half-time], he was very controlled, he said: 'I'll go and focus myself on what I have to do.' There was nothing needed from me or the other players to calm him down. He felt he was provoked and I will protect them when they are provoked.”
Was Mike Dean right to book both players?
Costa is likelier than most to find himself in this kind of situation every time he steps onto the pitch, and is not afraid of getting his name in the referee’s notebook.
There is a method to his madness, though. The Spaniard is a master of using his flammable nature to his team’s advantage by creating a flashpoint in which the officials are forced to make a decision in favour of one side or the other. Simply put, Costa found himself getting a taste of his own medicine from Parades last night.
The latter was unlikely to get away with throwing an arm into the back of his opponent without inciting a reaction, and although the Chelsea striker might not have done too much wrong in retaliation, it was enough for the referee to take action.
Considering Parades’ punch was in clear view of the fourth official and Costa had also been grappling with most of the Watford back four throughout the first half, Dean was right to defuse the situation by booking both players.
Blues stretch unbeaten run
The stalemate extended the Blues’ unbeaten run to nine games, but Hiddink insists his men were unlucky not to come away with a victory, largely thanks to a superb display by one of his former players at PSV Eindhoven, goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes.
"I'm disappointed we didn't get the deserved three points because I think my former goalkeeper Gomes got man of the match, and he highly deserves it," the 69-year-old said.
"He made some amazing saves in the last period of the game when we were threatening to go for the win.