Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte
Diego Costa is not surprised that Chelsea coach Antonio Conte and Manchester United counterpart Jose Mourinho had an altercation during Monday’s heated FA Cup quarterfinal at Stamford Bridge.
Fourth official Mike Jones had to separate Conte and Mourinho, who had an exchange on the touchline as the Premier League leaders beat the United 1-0.
The spat happened after United midfielder Ander Herrera picked up his second yellow card for bringing down Eden Hazard 10 minutes before half-time.
Costa told Spanish radio station Cadena Cope: “We all know how Conte and Mourinho are. They have very strong characters and it’s normal that they clash.”
Costa, known for his fiery temperament, joked: “It’s a good thing I wasn’t [on the bench for the game], otherwise I would have joined in!”
It’s not the first time former Italy and Juventus coach Conte has had an exchange with Mourinho, who steered Chelsea to three Premier League titles in two spells at the club.
Mourinho was critical of Conte’s celebrations in United’s 4-0 league loss to them last October that marked his return to Stamford Bridge.
Costa was just happy that his side kept their FA Cup and Premier League double hopes alive as N’Golo Kante’s second-half goal was enough to set up a semifinal meeting with Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley.
“It was a very complicated game because United defended deeply,” the Spain international said. “But we had the game under control from the first minute and we won.
“You can see that we are in good form and the important thing is to continue like this. Our aim is to win the domestic double.”
The former Atletico Madrid star has been crucial in helping Chelsea take a 10-point lead at the top of the Premier League, scoring 17 goals and setting up five more in 25 league starts.
Costa struggled with hamstring problems last season and finished with 12 league goals following his impressive first campaign in London where he scored 20 in 26 league appearances.
“Last year wasn’t a good one for me,” the Brazil-born Costa said. “But the important thing is that this year I have returned to my best and injuries aren’t bothering me. I hope I can continue to do well.”
The 28-year-old says he is happy to continue to prove his worth at Chelsea, whom he is contracted to until June 2019, despite reports that he could leave this summer.
“So many things are being said and every year people say I’m leaving yet here I am,” Costa said. “In the end, I will finish my career here!”
Costa, meanwhile, is not surprised that his Chelsea teammates and Belgium internationals Thibaut Courtois and Eden Hazard are reported targets of Champions League holders Real Madrid but hopes both stay at Stamford Bridge.