Costa elbowing 'was an accident'

LONDON • Fernandinho has denied deliberately elbowing Diego Costa during Manchester City's 3-0 English Premier League football victory over Chelsea on Sunday, contradicting Jose Mourinho's claim that he should have been sent off for targeting the forward.

The City midfielder was booked by Martin Atkinson, the referee, for catching Costa with his left arm in a controversial challenge. It resulted in the forward receiving lengthy treatment before seeking retribution at half-time.

Exacerbating Chelsea's sense of injustice, Fernandinho went on to score City's third goal in an emphatic rout, prompting a furious reaction from Mourinho.

But Fernandinho denied suggestions that the clash with Costa was premeditated. He maintained that his challenge was an honest one and that the collision occurred despite his determination not to respond to the Spain striker's provocative nature.

"It was an accident and the nature of the game," he said. "It was a shock and I received a yellow card. It happens in football.

"(Costa) is always trying to offend the opposition but I keep calm and keep playing.

"I just didn't want to fight or have any confrontation and just to play for my team."

Mourinho cited the outcome of that incident as one of the reasons he regarded the result of the game as "fake".

But Fernandinho believes that the final score and the quality of City's performance against the reigning Premier League champions have further fuelled his belief that his side "have come to win the title this season".

"I'm proud of being part of this team and it's the way we like to play, with a lot of intensity, control of the ball," he said.

"We like to have possession, and in both games we have played, we did it in the best way.

"The important thing is to win the title, and if we can do it with style and by entertaining, it's perfect. We have got good players up front who can score a lot of goals but the most important thing is to be consistent in defence and midfield as well.

"We play our game and try to score from the first minute.

"Of course, it was difficult to play against Chelsea but they didn't have any chance against us."

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 20, 2015, with the headline 'Costa elbowing 'was an accident''. Print Edition | Subscribe