The most uncomfortably one-sided erotic pairing since Phaedra and Hippolytus ended almost as tragically. Gareth Barry probably wouldn't score particularly highly on a survey to find the perfect male partner, but Diego Costa cares not for our cultural cliches and bastard concepts of Beauty. Transfixed at first kick, he pursued his man across Goodison Park, battling through hordes of blue shirts and against the crude, prudish judgement of Michael Oliver before finally stealing in for a desperate bite/furious licking/passionate kiss.
Costa was immediately banished for his forbidden love and Barry himself was despatched shortly thereafter, putting a firm stop to the on-pitch romancing, but the tragedy wasn't quite over after the red cards came out. The main act over, we then had to sit through the bitter dregs of a 2-0 Romelu Lukaku-powered loss that more or less ends Chelsea's season as a object of even remote interest. So that was fun.
The last time we were at Goodison Park the Blues were subjected to a 3-1 loss in which the Dread God Steven Naismith scored a hattrick from the bench, so at least we didn't have to deal with that. Everything else barring the Barry-Costa subplot was more or less identical, from the toothless shambles up front to the ongoing disaster at the back. Chelsea might be unbeaten in the Premier League since Guus Hiddink took over, but the seeds of calamity remain, and germinated here with depressing predictability.
Each fullback lost possession in the defensive third within the first minute, which seemed to set the tone for some ridiculously opened play. There was little room for dour, pointless play in the early going -- instead we got some exhilarating stupidity. Tom Cleverley blasted a shot down Thibaut Courtois' throat; Kenedy turned a neat Pedro flick into a souvenir for fans in Row Z a few seconds later.
The threatened lunacy, however, was quickly replaced by lunacy of an entirely different sort. Costa had hurt his ankle during Chelsea's mid-week loss to Paris Saint-Germain, and when Barry kicked said ankle ... things got weird pretty fast. While lesser men might have been angry at the deliberate attempt at aggravating an injury, Costa appears to have interpreted it as the opening act in an elaborate, violent mating ritual.
He responded to the compliment in kind, bopping Barry in the face as he attempted to turn him a minute later. Unfortunately, nobody told the referee that this was the first act of an epic courtship, which meant Costa received a booking rather than the love he'd been so desperately seeking.
The match continued in this sort of vein for a frighteningly long time, with the sexual tension surrounding Barry and Costa spreading to players on both sides. More or less everyone got in on the romance, and by the end of the first half Oliver was so flustered by the latent eroticism he'd forgotten what a foul even looked like.
Chances? Hah. There was barely any football. Even Lukaku's 77th-minute opener, hailed as brilliant by more or less everyone, involved three Chelsea defenders embarrassing themselves. Branislav Ivanovic completely missed his tackle, Cesar Azpilicueta bounced off him like a child charging full-speed into a bouncy castle and Gary Cahill decided that spinning amiably in the vicinity of the ball would be better than trying to do anything about stopping his former teammate from scoring.
The second arrived shortly thereafter. Kenedy, an attacking midfielder playing at left back, failed to push up and allowed Lukaku a free run on goal. With less than 10 minutes to play, Chelsea were never going to claw back a 2-0 deficit: the season was over, and all that was left was for that to become official.
Costa knew he wasn't going to have much longer to act on his forbidden love. He moved quickly and decisively:
Looks like Costa and Barry were caught in a tender moment here pic.twitter.com/fBdG3swOtV— Jenny Brown (@cfc_jb) March 12, 2016
Thus ended Chelsea's 2015/16 season.