Belfast Telegraph

Chelsea sweat on Costa verdict

Chelsea face the prospect of playing Saturday's Premier League title showdown with Manchester City without Diego Costa after the striker was charged with violent conduct.

Costa faces an immediate three-match ban for his apparent stamp on Liverpool defender Emre Can in Tuesday night's Capital One Cup semi-final second leg win.

The incident happened in close proximity to the dugouts, but was missed by the match officials.

It was reviewed on video by referee Michael Oliver on Wednesday, with the charge following as part of the Football Association's fast-tracked procedures.

Costa, who faces no action for a similar incident involving Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel, has until 6pm on Thursday to respond to the charge.

If Costa denies the charge, the appeal will be heard on Friday, but he would require the appeal commission to side with him in order to face City.

Either way, there will be a resolution before Saturday's contest at Stamford Bridge where Chelsea's lead from City at the top of the Premier League could extend to eight points, or fall to two.

A FA statement read: "Diego Costa has been charged by The FA for violent conduct following an on-field incident which was not seen by the match officials but caught on video.

"The charge is in relation to an incident involving the Chelsea forward and Liverpool's Emre Can which occurred in the 12th minute of the Capital One Cup semi-final second leg at Stamford Bridge last night (Tuesday, January 27, 2015).

"The player has until 6pm on Thursday, January 29, 2015 to respond to the charge.

"Following a review of an incident during the game involving Costa and Liverpool's Martin Skrtel, The FA will not be taking any further action."

As the Capital One Cup is a Football League competition, the disciplinary process differs slightly from a Premier League match where a three-man panel of former referees would decide whether he should be charged.

Referee Oliver was asked by the FA whether he or any of the officials saw the incident and, as they did not, footage was reviewed to determine if a sending-off offence had occurred.

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, who earlier on Wednesday was fined £25,000 for claiming there was a "clear campaign" against Chelsea, has insisted that both stamps were "absolutely accidental".

A three-match ban would rule Costa the City clash, as well as matches with Everton and Aston Villa. There is no right of appeal.

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