Jose Mourinho insisted Diego Costa’s stamps were “accidental” and criticised Brendan Rodgers after Chelsea beat Liverpool to a place in the Capital One Cup final in an ill-tempered, frenetic semi-final second leg at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea will play either Tottenham or Sheffield United in the March 1 final after a header from Branislav Ivanovic in the fourth minute of extra time earned a 1-0 win and a 2-1 aggregate victory.
Costa was involved in three of the game’s main talking points – stamps on Emre Can and Martin Skrtel, and a Chelsea penalty appeal when tripped by Skrtel.
Mourinho railed against Costa’s critics, one unnamed television pundit in particular, who is understood to be former Liverpool midfielder Jamie Redknapp.
“There is a campaign on the television with a certain pundit that is saying Diego Costa ’crimes’. This guy must be nuts,” Mourinho said.
“I saw the incidents. About the penalty, I don’t speak. I prefer not to speak. If I comment I will be in trouble and I don’t want to be.
“What you call stamps and Sky calls crimes, I have to say absolutely accidental. He goes to the ball, he chases the ball, as the opponent is on the floor, they have a contact, he puts his foot there when he’s looking to the ball.
“Great campaign. We know how much that pundit loves Chelsea and particularly loves me.”
Mourinho declined to name the pundit, who he said has “to be fair and they have to be honest”.
“I don’t know his name, because when I see him I switch off the television,” Mourinho added. “Forget it. Let’s go to Wembley. Come on.”
Costa could face retrospective punishment from the Football Association for the stamps, particularly the one on Can which came in front of the dugouts.
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers said: “He’s an outstanding player, an outstanding footballer. He has this edge to him. With Emre Can, that was poor, I felt. He could easily hurdle over the young player and he directs his studs right on to his ankle, which could’ve been nasty.
“And again the one with Martin Skrtel. There’s no need to do it.”
Tempers frayed in the technical areas as Mourinho and Rodgers confronted each other.
Rodgers, who thought Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was the difference in the tie, played down the incident – “there’s no problem,” he said – but Mourinho hinted at animosity towards his former protege.
Mourinho, who saw Courtois save well from Alberto Moreno and Philippe Coutinho in the first half, added: “He worked in Chelsea in my time for a few years. I don’t know if he learned something with me or not. Maybe he did, maybe he didn’t.
“He is what he is. He is a fantastic manager, but we are different people.”
Ivanovic suffered a cut foot and Filipe Luis (calf) and Cesc Fabregas (hamstring) were substituted due to injury, making them doubts for Saturday’s Premier League showdown with Manchester City.