Manchester United host Bournemouth in the Premier League this lunchtime, with the game tied at 1-1 at the break. The story from the match, however, is what occurred just before half-time: a minute of violence and revenge that somehow went unpunished by referee Kevin Friend.
There has been a bizarre level of needle between Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Tyrone Mings all afternoon, that began with Zlatan hurling him to the ground early on.
Ibrahimovic against Bournemouth
Things got much worse later on, just prior to half-time. Zlatan was sent crashing off his feet by a heavy challenge by a Bournemouth defender, and with Zlatan lying prone on the ground, Tyrone Mings slyly stamped on his head.
That went unpunished, and the referee played advantage. Less than a minute later, Zlatan found himself loitering at the back post, with Mings beside him for company. Spying an opportunity for revenge, Ibra elbowed him in the face:
Gary Neville reproved of both incidents, saying that "we've got a bout of UFC here". The reaction by referee Kevin Friend was utterly bizarre, with Jamie Carragher accusing him of "bottling" the decision. After a long consultation with a colleague via audio link-up, and having been accosted by players from both sides, Friend took no action against either Mings or Ibrahimovic, the latter who was already booked.
Bizarrely, he decided to flash a second yellow card to Bournemouth's Andrew Surman for protesting too much. He didn't realise that he had already booked Surman, so belatedly approached him in the centre circle to issue the red card. Eddie Howe and his assistant were sent tp the stands for the ferocity of their half-time complaints.
Both Mings and Ibrahimovic play on, although they may face retrospective punishment by the FA.
Jeff Stelling's reaction on Soccer Saturday was perfect:
— mark hilltops (@hellwelovespurs) March 4, 2017