Belfast Telegraph

Diego Costa did not intend to hurt me, insists Wes Brown

By Martin Hardy

Wes Brown has exonerated Diego Costa from blame after the Chelsea striker floored him with a stray right arm during Chelsea's goalless draw at Sunderland on Saturday.

Costa was at the centre of controversy, with the Sunderland manager, Gus Poyet, claiming that his combative central midfielder Lee Cattermole would have been sent off if he had been involved in either the incident that led to Costa being booked or his clash with John O'Shea.

That had happened towards the end of the first half when O'Shea fouled the Chelsea forward, who tried to rake his studs into the Sunderland captain. Referee Kevin Friend spoke to both men but there was no punishment.

However, when Costa's flailing right arm struck Brown's face in the second half, Friend, who was surrounded by angry Sunderland players, produced yellow. That means Costa will miss Wednesday's game with Tottenham Hotspur.

Brown needed treatment to continue, but he said: "It doesn't bother me one bit. If I'm being honest, I don't know what hit me, I just know I was caught by something. One of the lads has said it didn't look like it was on purpose, it was more of his follow-through. That's football. I'm a defender and I'm pretty much used to that."

Chelsea's manager, Jose Mourinho, had refused to criticise either of Costa's actions. He also claimed the rest may benefit his main striker.

"It's never a blessing, we want the best players to play, but to have one game to rest for them individually it gives them a new energy," he said. "After that he is fresh to play against Newcastle the next weekend. This is football and in this busy period where you play so many matches, players do get a fifth yellow card."

Poyet has now won two and drawn one of his last three games against Mourinho. The Chelsea manager added: "Last season we came here in the league and won. We came here in the cup with a second team and we lost.

"The game at Stamford Bridge is a game to forget. It was not a game to remember because it was a sad day for the Premier League, not just a sad day for Chelsea. This time they've got a point. We're not speaking about some team beating Chelsea for the last 10 matches. Defending the way they defend they can play against any team and make it difficult.

"I don't think they overcame our strategy because we were very comfortable in the game."

Sunderland defended heroically for their point and that has concerned, as the Chelsea midfielder Nemanja Matic acknowledged. "Of course, now every team is going to defend," he said. "And we know that and we are ready that.

"The manager said before the game that it was going to be a hard game, for sure. I think we just have to think about the next game. So from tomorrow we have to concentrate on that."

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