Guus Hiddink does not believe Diego Costa crossed a line with his antics during Chelsea's 2-2 draw with West Bromwich Albion on Wednesday despite revealing the Spain international punched a hole in the Stamford Bridge tunnel.
The short-tempered striker clashed with Jonas Olsson, Claudio Yacob and Boaz Myhill during the match and also challenged referee Anthony Taylor on numerous occasions.
He also lashed out at the tunnel wall following the final whistle, West Brom having equalised just four minutes from time, but Blues manager Hiddink defended his actions, per MailOnline's Daniel Sandford:
How close to the line was he? I think there was little space left. But no, they were challenging each other. The defenders, and that's their right, were provoking him a little bit, but in a mutual way. Those clashes are normal. I didn't see any bad things.
A hole in the tunnel wall? We can repair that easily, it's not a problem. He's an emotional guy and I like that very much. If you have to push players it's difficult to survive in the Premier League, but if you have to control them it's much better.
Costa has historically been a hot-headed player and took criticism earlier this season for allowing his aggression to get in the way of his talent, such as from the Telegraph's Paul Hayward:
Diego Costa, the most aggressive player in Jose Mourinho's team, is also the least reliable in a fight. The tough guy act's not working.— Paul Hayward (@_PaulHayward) December 7, 2015
However, he has looked somewhat revived since Hiddink replaced Jose Mourinho as Chelsea boss in December, and he had netted four goals in three matches ahead of the West Brom clash, per WhoScored.com.
Though he failed to find the net against the Baggies, he continued to look in improved form following a largely dire first half of the season, per MailOnline's Charlie Skillen:
Thought Costa was Chelsea's best player by a mile last night. Played it risky with discipline as always, but worked so, so hard.— Charlie Skillen (@charlieskillen) January 14, 2016
The draw saw the defending champions remain in 14th place in the Premier League, but the Blues are still unbeaten after five games under Hiddink.
Given the topsy-turvy nature of the English top flight this season, it is not completely out of the question that Chelsea could still finish in the top four.
They are 12 points back from Tottenham Hotspur in fourth, and they would shoot up the league if they could put four or five wins together.
Hiddink may well be looking to add some reinforcements to the squad in the January transfer window, but Bleacher Report's Dean Jones recently rejected the idea Chelsea would sign AC Milan striker Carlos Bacca:
With Costa in good form again, missing out on Bacca may not be the worst news in the world, but the Blues could be in trouble if the Spain international picks up an injury.
Loic Remy is an able deputy, but Costa remains the No. 1 striker at Chelsea, and Hiddink will be eager to see his form continue to improve heading into the business end of the season.