LONDON, January 17 – Chelsea face an anxious wait after striker Diego Costa was hospitalised during a crazy 3-3 draw with Everton that saw John Terry score for both sides at Stamford Bridge.
The Spain forward had already hobbled off with a shin injury, having earlier scored, when Terry found the net in the 98th minute from an offside position.
Chelsea interim manager Guus Hiddink admitted he was crossing his fingers that Costa was not seriously injured, but made it clear that he was in no hurry to sign another striker this month in case of a lengthy lay-off.
“He’s in the hospital and they will have a scan,” Hiddink said. “We don’t know the result yet and I hope it’s not bad. It’s on his shin. He was in a lot of pain, that’s true.
“We can move in the transfer market if we want to, but at the moment we are doing nothing. We hope Diego comes out the hospital in good health and we go on as we are doing.
“I always had my attitude that when something has to be done, yes or no, we don’t go public before we do something. It’s not wise to talk. We are not in negotiations with whoever, at this moment.”
The draw means Chelsea remain closer to the relegation places than the European slots and Hiddink conceded that hopes of a top-four finish are diminishing quickly.
“The aim and ambitions we had for fourth place, we had to make three points in each of these two home games,” said Hiddink, whose side had drawn 2-2 at home to West Bromwich Albion in their previous match.
“We didn’t do so, so it’s difficult. We’re using our decreasing number of games. It will be even more difficult.”
A dull first half was followed by a frantic final 45 minutes that saw Terry put through his own goal and Kevin Mirallas fire Everton 2-0 ahead.
Fortune favoured Chelsea when Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard came out but missed the ball to allow Costa a tap-in and again when Cesc Fabregas’s shot was deflected past the American to make it 2-2.
Everton thought that they had won it when Ramiro Funes Mori hooked home in stoppage time, but Terry — playing his 700th Chelsea game — had the last word with a deft flick after 97 minutes and 53 seconds of action.
– ‘Unacceptable’ –
Furious Everton manager Roberto Martinez demanded that match officials make public the amount of minutes they add on after seven were signalled by the fourth official.
It was mainly the result of an injury to Bryan Oviedo, although Everton’s celebrations after their third goal may also have been a factor.
“The fourth official made it clear it was time, before the ball was played into the box,” he said. “Maybe the whole ground should see the time left on a big clock.
“But a player two yards offside in the box? That’s unacceptable. It’s a decision that should have been given offside. It doesn’t come down to the interpretation of the referee.
“It’s a heartbreaking moment for us. The referee wasn’t up to the level today.”
Improbably, it was the second time this season that Everton have conceded in the 98th minute of a match to draw 3-3, the same scenario having unfolded at Bournemouth in November.
Everton also scored in stoppage time themselves on that occasion.
Martinez denied that his side had an Achilles heel, however.
“That one (at Bournemouth) was part of football,” he said. “They scored a legal goal down there. I accept that. Today (Saturday) was unacceptable. It’s two yards offside.”
Hiddink admitted that Martinez had been correct to complain about the offside call.
“I can say now he is quite right,” said the Dutchman.
“Sometimes it goes in our favour during the season. Other times it’s damaging. But why should I deny it? I have seen it. Oscar touched the ball and, half a yard, John was offside, even though he made a beautiful goal.”