Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho felt Diego Costa’s controversial showing in the win over Arsenal made him man-of-the-match, adding it represents why the Premier League remains popular.
Costa was central to Gabriel’s first-half dismissal – having struck Laurent Koscielny in the face before being kicked out at by the Brazilian centre-half.
Santi Cazorla was then dismissed in between goals from Kurt Zouma and Eden Hazard, but it was Costa’s colourful display that attracted the ire of Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger – who branded the striker’s behaviour “unacceptable”.
However, Mourinho refuted suggestions Costa was in the wrong and stated his display was pure theatre.
“I played against Arsenal 12, 15, 18 times… I don’t know how many. And only once [Wenger] didn’t moan,” Mourinho explained.
“And that day, we lost the game, which was not good for us, we lost the cup but we behaved in a fantastic way – no excuses, not crying, not moaning. Just Mr Jose Mourinho, my players and Chelsea football club.
“I played my first derby in September 2000 – Benfica against Porto. I told my players before the game that to win derbies you need emotional control. I’ve played derbies in Portugal, Spain, Italy and England. In every derby, you don’t win without emotional control.
“It’s the basic thing of the game. [Instead of Costa] I think you should speak about Gabriel Paulista. He’s a good player who made a mistake.
“If you want to speak about Diego Costa with me, he played like he has to play. That’s why you have full stadiums and the game watched around the world by millions and millions. The game has to be played like that.
“That is why tomorrow I will go to see what I consider comparable in terms of dedication and passion, New Zealand and Argentina [in the Rugby World Cup] – I go tomorrow because I love it. Fantastic, Diego.
“Costa was man-of-the-match for me. Of course [it was not a red card for Costa]. It was the same referee who made all the decisions in the game and who didn’t give two clear penalties for us. There are also rules for what Gabriel did to Eden Hazard.
“Gabriel Paulista did something on Eden Hazard in the box that is allowed in rugby and not in football. In the box, it’s a penalty. In the second half, someone did it on Diego Costa.
“In rugby it’s fantastic but in football it’s a penalty. I have to cope with my defeats, [Wenger] has to cope with his.”