Branislav Ivanovic
Branislav Ivanovic has escaped FA punishment Getty Images

Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic has escaped punishment from the Football Association despite allegedly biting and headbutting Everton midfielder James McCarthy during the 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge on 11 February.

Gareth Barry's foul on match-winner Willian led to the Toffees player being dismissed but also sparked a mass confrontation between players from both teams.

Ivanovic was seen to haul McCarthy away from the melee before leaning his head towards him, while the Serbia international has been pictured appearing to bite the player during the episode that occurred in the 86<sup>th minute.

Referee Jon Moss did not record the event in his post-match report and the incident was not spotted by either of his assistants, therefore the case could have qualified to be punished retrospectively.

However, the FA's three-man panel has deemed the event not to have breached their rules and Ivanovic has avoided being sanctioned despite his involvement.

"In Premier League matches, if an incident has not been seen by the match officials, a three-man panel of former elite referees will be asked by the FA to review it and advise what, if any, action they believe the match referee should have taken had it been witnessed at the time," a statement read.

"For an FA charge to follow, all three panel members must agree it is a sending-off offence. In this instance, the panel did not believe the conduct was worthy of a dismissal."

Former Chelsea defender Jason Cundy told IBTimes UK: "Ivanovic grabbed McCarthy and he moved his head towards him. Is that a headbutt though? Not for me.

"I think it was a booking, at most. But having said that, in the modern game, if you grab the player you give the referee a decision to make."

But Chelsea and Everton have been charged with failing to control their players in the same incident after heated exchanges between both teams. The teams have until 6pm on 17 February to respond to the charge.