Football

Spit spat

Evans denies spitting, while Cisse apologises as both face lengthy bans

NOT ME: Jonny Evans (left, seen here confronting Papiss Cisse) insists that it not in his character to spit at anybody.

Manchester United defender Jonny Evans and Newcastle striker Papiss Cisse could be out for as many as six matches if they are found guilty of spitting at each other.

The Football Association will investigate the alleged incident which happened in their clubs' EPL clash yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Press Association Sport understands disciplinary chiefs are awaiting match referee Anthony Taylor's report, while reviewing video footage from the game, which saw United win 1-0 at St James' Park.

The pair clashed after an Evans challenge on Cisse, with television replays suggesting both men had spat during an ugly confrontation.

Both players issued statements last night. Evans insisted that he did not spit at Cisse, claiming that it is "not in his character to spit at any anybody", while Cisse apologised.

He said: "I would like to make it clear that I did not spit at Papiss Cisse.

"I was totally unaware of any spitting incident and had assumed that the issue at the time was with the challenge and his attempted retaliation to the tackle from the floor."

Meanwhile, Cisse said: "I have apologies to make to a lot of people today.

"Firstly to my teammates and to our supporters, secondly to Jonny Evans, and thirdly to every football fan who saw the incident between myself and Jonny."

Cisse added: "I reacted to something I found very unpleasant. Sometimes it is hard not to react, particularly in the heat of the moment.

"I have always tried hard to be a positive role model, especially for our young fans, and yesterday, I let you down."

Last season, then-Hull striker George Boyd served a three-match suspension for spitting at Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart, a charge which he denied.

However, this season's FA disciplinary guidelines state that the punishment should be double of that, which could prove costly for both clubs.

United face Arsenal in the FA Cup quarter-finals on Tuesday morning and Premier League top-four rivals Tottenham and Liverpool in the next few weeks, while Cisse is Newcastle's leading goalscorer on 11.

United boss Louis van Gaal insisted that he could not imagine defender Evans spitting at a fellow professional.

He said: "I didn't see that from the bench. It's too far to see spitting, so I cannot judge that. But I cannot imagine that Jonny Evans, because he is a very modest person, that he could do that."

Newcastle head coach John Carver admitted that he was unaware of the details until asked about it in a post-match television interview.

He said: "I genuinely haven't seen the incident. I just saw a fracas on the halfway line between the two players and the referee spoke to them. I need to have a look at it."

United extended their run to just two defeats in 22 games in all competitions, courtesy of Ashley Young's late winner, which came when Mehdi Abeid, under intense pressure from Wayne Rooney, stabbed a back pass towards goalkeeper Tim Krul, whose efforts to clear only served to tee up the midfielder for the winner. - Wire Services.