Spitting row: Jonny Evans and Papiss Cisse 'to face FA charge'
A tussle during Man Utd's victory over Newcastle appeared to turn into a spitting match between the two players
Newcastle 0 Manchester United 1. A late goal from Ashley Young earned Manchester United a hard-fought victory at St James' Park, but the win was overshadowed by a spitting row that is likely to have repercussions for both clubs.
Manchester United defender Jonny Evans and Newcastle striker Papiss Cisse tangled in the first half and appeared to lash out at each other as they lay on the ground. Evans then got to his feet and, according to the Sun, "spat downwards in the direction of Newcastle striker Cisse. The Toon striker jumped to his feet and seemed to spit back" at the United player. Though the incident was not seen by referee Anthony Taylor, the Football Association is almost certain to charge the players with misconduct once it has reviewed video footage of the incident.
Pundits were quick to condemn the players' behaviour, with former Manchester United and England defender Phil Neville describing spitting as "the worst thing you can do on a pitch".
Though victims of Luis Suarez might disagree with that assessment, there's no doubt that the pair, if charged and found guilty, will be severely punished by the FA. Speaking on Match of the Day, former Newcastle midfielder Dietmar Hamann predicted: "Both players will have a few weeks off. This is not acceptable, it's disgusting."
Hamann's comments were echoed by former Magpies midfielder Jermaine Jenas who told BBC 5 live: "I am completely disgusted. If Cisse has spat in Jonny Evans's face then he needs a long ban. The game does not need to see this. It's just a disgusting habit."
Twelve months ago Hull City's George Boyd was banned for three matches for spitting at Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart and a similar ban will probably be meted out to Cisse and Evans.
Neither manager claimed to have witnessed the incident with Louis van Gaal declaring: "I don't think Jonny Evans is a spitter. Maybe spitting on the floor but we are on the bench and you cannot see from there."
Newcastle's John Carver said that though he saw a "fracas on the halfway line" he was too far away too have seen any spitting. Nonetheless, he added, "You can't do it…it's one of the worst things in football".
The match was settled one minute from time when Newcastle goalkeeper Tim Krul played the ball into the path of Ashley Young. The United winger made the most of his good fortune, earning with his strike a precious three points for the visitors on a night when all their rivals also won. It was tough luck on Krul, who had made a string of good saves before his gaffe, and leaves Newcastle in 11th spot, four points behind West Ham in 10th.
United remain fourth and still in contention for Champions League qualification. "I think we have dominated for 90 minutes," said van Gaal. "[It was] maybe our best match of the season, especially in an away match. We deserved the victory."