Diego Costa was 'very clear' he did not bite Gareth Barry, Chelsea say
Diego Costa has denied biting Gareth Barry during the altercation that saw him sent off during Chelsea's FA Cup quarterfinal defeat to Everton at Goodison Park.
A statement posted on the club's official Twitter account read: "Diego spoke to club officials after the game and expressed regret over his reaction to the challenge from 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."
Romelu Lukaku scored twice to condemn the Blues to settle the hotly contested match before Costa, who had fought a running battle with Barry throughout, reacted angrily to a tackle from Barry and confronted him aggressively.
Referee Michael Oliver responded by issuing Costa with his first red card since arriving in English football and replays appeared to show the Spain international opening his mouth towards Barry's neck while the pair were tangled together.
Barry was also booked for his role in the incident and received his second yellow card shortly afterwards for a tackle on Cesc Fabregas.
Costa could face further punishment from the Football Association if they decide that he bit Barry, though after the match Everton manager Roberto Martinez insisted that his midfielder had told him the incident was "nothing to worry about" and Chelsea interim boss Guus Hiddink instead chose to draw attention to what he described as "provocation" of the Spain international by the home side.
When contacted by Press Association Sport, the Football Association said it was aware of the incident and would wait for referee Michael Oliver's report before a decision would be made about any possible action.
In the first half, Costa had earned a yellow card after an initial clash with Barry, and he then appeared to spit at Oliver's feet.
Costa was later sent off in the 84th minute after objecting to Barry's challenge, which sent him sprawling to the pitch.
The striker quickly rose to his feet and made contact with Barry with a chest bump, then pushed his head into his opponent's face before lowering his open mouth to the Everton man's neck.
Barry did not pull away, and Costa pulled his opponent in for a brief embrace before they were separated.
Despite never having previously been sent off for Chelsea, Costa has twice been suspended retrospectively by the FA -- once for stamping on Liverpool midfielder Emre Can during a League Cup tie in January 2015 and again for an altercation with Arsenal defender Gabriel Paulista during a Premier League match at Stamford Bridge in September.
Luis Suarez was banned from competitive matches for four months as well as the next nine international games for Uruguay after being found guilty of biting Giorgio Chiellini at the 2014 World Cup.
Liam is ESPN FC's Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.