Guus Hiddink admitted Diego Costa was sailing close to the wind after the striker’s latest hot-headed antics in Chelsea’s 2-2 draw with West Brom.
Costa showed more clout after the final whistle than he had in front of goal during the previous 90 minutes after punching the tunnel wall as he stormed off.
The snarling Spaniard squared up to Baggies keeper Boaz Myhill at full-time, having earlier been involved in an angry exchange of words with defender Jonas Olsson. He also tried to get Claudio Yacob, who was already on a yellow card, sent off for tripping him over.
When Hiddink took over as Blues boss he told Costa to channel his emotions in a positive way, and the forward responded with four goals in his last three matches.
But after fluffing an early chance Costa was back to his antagonistic worst, picking fights all over the pitch despite having been booked for a late challenge on Craig Gardner.
Hiddink said: “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.”
Chelsea had taken the lead after 20 minutes when Cesar Azpilicueta arrived at the far post to tuck in a cross from Branislav Ivanovic.
Substitute Gardner equalised in the 33rd minute after collecting a stray pass from Pedro and firing home from 20 yards.
In the 73rd minute Gareth McAuley deflected Willian’s cross into his own goal but the Baggies snatched a point, and put another dent in Chelsea’s already slim hopes of reaching the top four, when James McClean drove home four minutes from time.
“We have said before that as long as it is possible mathematically to get fourth place then we will go for it,” added Hiddink.