Jordan Henderson somehow avoided a red card in a fiery clash between Al-Ettifaq and Al-Nassr in Saudi Arabia, prompting the ire of Cristiano Ronaldo.
The last 16 of the imaginatively named King Cup saw Steven Gerrard’s Al-Ettifaq host a star-studded Al-Nassr side.
Henderson and Gini Wijnaldum both started in midfield for the home side, while Ronaldo, Sadio Mane, Otavio, Marcelo Brozovic, Aymeric Laporte and Alex Telles were among the familiar names in the opposition XI.
It was a game marred by refereeing controversy, with Ronaldo gesturing for official Piero Maza to be replaced at one stage.
Al-Nassr forward Talisca was sent off late into first-half stoppage time, before a flare-up as the game neared the end of the 90 minutes.
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Ali Hazazi felled Otavio with a late challenge which earned the Al-Ettifaq player a red card, with Henderson then shoving Otavio to the ground three times afterwards.
Despite doing so directly in front of the referee, the former Liverpool captain escaped punishment, with Laporte angrily pushing Henderson before Mane stepped in to calm his old team-mate.
With the whistle blowing for the end of normal time, Henderson was then confronted by Ronaldo as the pair headed towards the touchline.
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Ronaldo gestured in Henderson’s face, clearly frustrated with his involvement in a situation which saw both teams clash near the centre circle.
The 33-year-old, who has found himself playing the crowds of less than 1,000 most weeks in Saudi Arabia, somehow stayed on to play the full 120 minutes.
Mane netted the winner for Al-Nassr in the second half of extra time, knocking Al-Ettifaq out of the competition as they progressed to the quarter-finals.
Speaking after the game, Gerrard insisted that he has “never seen a decision as bad” as that which saw Hazazi dismissed.
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“I became a professional footballer in 1997 and I have never seen a decision as bad as that,” he told reporters.
“The referee said to my staff that he sent my player off because of the reaction of the Al-Nassr players, so if that is the case, every time Al-Nassr players react that referee is going to give a red card.
“I have watched thousands and thousands of games, I played in a thousand of games, that in football is called a professional, tactical foul.
“It wasn’t dangerous, it wasn’t malicious and it wasn’t aggressive.
“That is not a red card, in any game of football, in any country, at any level, it is a yellow card. Fact.”
Al-Ettifaq subsequently confirmed they had submitted an official request for audio of discussions between the referee and VAR on the night.