Football

Rojo slammed for coward's tackle

Jose Mourinho refused to criticise Marcos Rojo after the Manchester United man escaped a red card for the second time in 10 days following a nasty challenge during a win at Crystal Palace yesterday morning (Singapore time).

The Red Devils showed character to battle to a 2-1 win at Selhurst Park as Zlatan Ibrahimovic netted an 88th-minute winner to keep Mourinho's men six points off the Premier League top four.

It had looked as though the visitors had once again thrown away points from a winning position as James McArthur equalised for Palace after Paul Pogba's controversial opener.

POOR NIGHT

On a poor night for referee Craig Pawson and his officials, Pogba prodded United in front despite looking offside and with Ibrahimovic having handled the ball in the build-up.

The visitors would then be left feeling hard done by as they had a strong penalty appeal turned down when Joe Ledley cleared a corner with his arm, before Juan Mata saw a goal wrongly disallowed for offside.

But arguably the biggest flashpoint came when Rojo, who should have been sent off for a two-footed challenge on Everton's Idrissa Gueye less than a fortnight ago, executed a similar challenge on former United man Wilfried Zaha.

Again, the Argentina international was only punished with a yellow card, and Mourinho refused to criticise the defender - citing recent bad challenges on his players.

"He's playing really well, phenomenal," the United boss said.

"He's a clean player, aggressive. His nature, Argentinian, is emotional but very clean.

"I didn't comment on David Luiz on Marouane Fellaini, or Danny Rose on Henrikh Mkitaryian. I'm not going to comment on this one."

However, Eagles' boss Alan Pardew was more forthcoming when asked about the challenge and felt the former Sporting Lisbon man was lucky.

"It did look bad," he said.

RED CARD

"Looking back on it, he jumps two-footed on it, we've been to all these meetings where that's a red card."

It's a sentiment shared by former referee Howard Webb and ex-Chelsea striker Tony Cascarino.

Webb told BT Sport: "What type of a tackle is that? That's not a tackle for the ball. It's not a fair way to win the ball.

"It's just lunging at an opponent not with the force required for that tackle. There's no place for tackles like that in the modern game. It should be a red."

Cascarino, meanwhile, wrote in the Times of London: "Normally if a player gets away with a bad challenge during a high-profile, televised game, referees are primed to send him off should it happen again.

"So it's amazing that after his two-footed lunge on Gueye, Rojo got lucky with another poor challenge. He should have been sent off for diving in on Zaha.

"It's remarkable that players are still making those sort of challenges.

"It is a coward's tackle - you are most likely to hurt an opponent and probably won't get hurt yourself."

- WIRE SERVICES

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