Predictably, Diego Costa's nuzzling of Gareth Barry's neck is leading this morning's headlines. Which is unfortunate for Diego Costa and unfortunate for Chelsea, but also unfortunate for Romelu Lukaku, who was the big man for the big occasion, wherein none of the other 20-some players who played showed up.
All that Kraken-nostalgia and the pain of missed opportunity aside, all parties involved have played down the bust-up between Barry and Costa, one that had threatened to boil ever since the first few minutes when referee Michael Oliver failed to properly punish Barry for a cynical trip from behind and kick to Costa's ankle.
"Gareth Barry said to me it's nothing to be worried about. He said he's just disappointed that he collected the second yellow card. Diego Costa has a fighting spirit. I don't think it was much. I think the sending offs of Diego Costa and Gareth Barry were both right."
"Whatever happens with Diego Costa, I think we should see it as what we want to see in a cup game, real emotions. And I'm sure the players will have shaken it off at the end of the game and there is nothing to look back at. I haven't seen the replay from where he was he moved his head towards Gareth Barry and then I lost the eyesight of the action."
-Roberto Martinez; source: Mail
While Hiddink also pulled the typical "I didn't see it move" when you think your player might be in trouble, the Chelsea interim manager also tried to inject a bit of humor into the situation.
"There are movies about [anger management]. With Jack Nicholson and Adam Sandler. Maybe we will go and watch it together."
-Guus Hiddink; source: Mirror
Considering that Hiddink is retiring soon and Costa may be facing a lengthy ban — I realize there's no solid proof of anything, but that's never stopped The FA before, has it? — they'll have plenty of time for movie dates.
...Gareth Barry that led to his red card, but Diego was also very clear that he did not bite him at any point during that altercation.'(2/2)— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) March 12, 2016
It should also be noted that Barry, who certainly has a flair for the dramatic overreaction, made no attempt to get Costa into further trouble.
Diego Costa... #EVECHE pic.twitter.com/nKRNxbNZvO— Gianni (@GianniDiVersace) March 12, 2016
I guess we'll find out soon enough if this is the last we've heard on this incident.