Chelsea interim boss Guus Hiddink hit out at Watford defender Juan Carlos Paredes for trying to get Diego Costa sent off in Wednesday night’s goalless draw at Watford.
Watford right-back Paredes and Costa were involved in a petty exchange which saw both players booked by referee Mike Dean for their amateur dramatics.
Hiddink felt Paredes was trying to antagonise his short-tempered striker.
The Blues boss said: “It was very clear, because we were very close. It was just 10 yards from our bench.
Paredes punched Diego in his back. After that they stumbled. Then Paredes brought his hands to his head and Diego was nowhere near his head.
“This is something we must not do. It’s provocation to get someone (sent) off the pitch.
“Happily the referee and the assistant referee saw it.”
Watford captain Troy Deeney took a dim view of the incident, too.
“It’s new-age football,” he said. “There’s a little touch and everyone’s rolling around. It’s just handbags. In Sunday League that wouldn’t happen because you’d be laughed at.
“I don’t like to see it, and we’ll have a word with Paredes on our side.”
Hiddink claimed Chelsea would have won ‘easily’ were it not for the goalkeeper he worked with at PSV Eindhoven.
“We’re playing better and better and you saw how the team played in the last 20-25 minutes.
“My old goalie from a previous spell should get a big reward because if it was not for him we would win easily,” he said.
Watford counterpart Flores was happy with the draw, believing his side can compete with the best.
“We’re happy,” he said. “We’ve shown we can get points against the big teams, you see it against Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester City and Tottenham. The competitive level of the team is very high.”
But result menas the likelihood Chelsea will be playing European football next term receded further despite Hiddink extending his unbeaten run in caretaker charge to nine matches.
Five of Hiddink’s seven Premier League games have been draws, including against Watford on Boxing Day, leaving the Blues 15 points adrift of fourth-placed Arsenal.