Mark Hughes labels 'target' Diego Costa master of the dark arts
By James Dale
Last Updated: 19/03/17 9:14pm
Antonio Conte's suggestion Diego Costa was targeted by Stoke defenders was the other way around, according to Mark Hughes.
Gary Cahill's late winner meant Chelsea ran out 2-1 winners at the bet365 Stadium on Saturday and secured a 13-point lead at the top of the Premier League ahead of Manchester City's clash with Liverpool, live on Sky Sports 1 HD.
Costa was booked in the first half and repeatedly clashed with Stoke defenders Ryan Shawcross and Bruno Martins Indi in a heated fixture between the sides, which saw Phil Bardsley sent off in added time.
Conte claimed Costa showed great discipline to avoid a second yellow despite Stoke's efforts to make him "angry and then to react", but Hughes insists it was just the same old tricks from the Chelsea striker.
"We didn't target Costa, he targeted our players if anything," said former Chelsea forward Hughes.
"I played in that position for many years and you have to react better than that.
"He is an outstanding striker, you can still have that edge, you can still look after yourself but that kind of behaviour, going over too easily and staying down when he wasn't hurt, doesn't help.
"He draws fouls and tries to make the most of contact when they are not fouls. He is adept at the dark arts and everyone in football recognises that."