Watford defender Juan Carlos Paredes was criticised by his own captain and Chelsea interim boss Guus Hiddink for trying to get Diego Costa sent off in Wednesday night's goalless draw at Vicarage Road.
Watford right-back Paredes and Costa were involved in a petty first-half exchange which saw both players booked by referee Mike Dean.
Hiddink felt Paredes was trying to antagonise his short-tempered striker.
The Blues boss said: "It was very clear, because we were very close. It was just 10 yards from our bench.
"Paredes punched Diego in his back. After that they stumbled. Then Paredes brought his hands to his head and Diego was nowhere near his head.
"This is something we must not do. It's provocation to get someone (sent) off the pitch.
"Happily the referee and the assistant referee saw it."
Watford skipper Troy Deeney also took a dim view of the incident.
"It's new-age football," he said on BT Sport 1. "There's a little touch and everyone's rolling around. It's just handbags. In Sunday League that wouldn't happen because you'd be laughed at.
"I don't like to see it, and we'll have a word with Paredes on our side."
Watford boss Quique Sanchez Flores, who managed Costa at Atletico Madrid, spoke to the striker at the end of the game.
Asked what he said, the Hornets boss said: "That I love him."
On the incident, he added: "Contact in the Premier League is very normal.
"It's nothing new. I understand Costa because I coached Costa and every single player he wants to challenge them.
"Paredes was very hard, very strong also, but nothing happened. Nothing strange."
Hiddink praised Costa for keeping his cool.
"There was no need to calm him down," Hiddink said.
"At half-time he was very controlled. He said I'll go and focus on what I have to do."
Costa came close to winning the contest for Chelsea, but saw his 88th-minute header saved by Heurelho Gomes.
Hiddink remains unbeaten in his nine-match second caretaker spell, but only two of seven Premier League games have been won.
The Blues are 15 points adrift of fourth-placed Arsenal, meaning it is increasingly likely there will be no European football at Chelsea next term.
There could also be no John Terry after the captain announced last Sunday that he will not be granted a contract extension.
The Premier League champions maintain Terry could yet still be offered a new deal to take him into a 19th season.
The visiting supporters sang about Terry throughout.
"He got a huge reception, which is good," Hiddink added.
"He's performing very well."
Chelsea host Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on Sunday in what will likely be Terry's 698th game for the club and it is expected the supporters will make their feelings clear to the club's hierarchy over the captain's future.
The match will pit Hiddink up against compatriot Louis van Gaal, the Manchester United manager.
"It will be a terrific game," Hiddink added.