Manchester United’s Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic (2L) clashes in the air with Bournemouth’s English defender Tyrone Mings (L) during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Bournemouth at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on March 4, 2017. PHOTO: Oli SCARFF / AFP
Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic denied deliberately elbowing Bournemouth’s Tyrone Mings during Saturday’s stormy 1-1 draw between the teams.
“Listen, what happens on the field stays on the field. I’m not someone who attacks someone off the field,” Ibrahimovic told the BBC at Old Trafford.
“You have the TV, you can see the images. I jump up and jump high and he (Mings) jumps into my elbow. It is not my intention to hurt someone.”
Mings appeared to stamp on Ibrahimovic’s head with his left foot as he jumped over him late in the first half and the Swedish striker’s elbow moments later seemed to be a form of retaliation.
But Ibrahimovic said: “I didn’t know about the stamping on the head. If it was him, it was him.”
Ibrahimovic had previously been booked, but despite referee Kevin Friend speaking at length to Ibrahimovic and United captain Wayne Rooney, the former Paris Saint-Germain striker was allowed to stay on the pitch.
“I don’t think the referee saw Tyrone Mings try and stamp on Zlatan’s head,” Rooney told Sky Sports.
“In football that’s wrong. Everyone likes going into tackles, but to try and stamp on a player’s head is wrong. There’s no place for it and I’m sure there will be punishment for it after the game.”
Mings said he had not deliberately stamped on Ibrahimovic’s head, having escaped punishment over the incident.
“Not at all. I would never do that. That’s not in my game,” he said. “Hard and fair is how I like to tackle, but off-the-ball stuff like that isn’t part of my game.”
– Retrospective action –
On Ibrahimovic’s apparent retaliation, Mings said: “There was maybe an elbow when the ball came in after. I didn’t see it, I felt it.”
United manager Jose Mourinho refused to discuss the altercations between Ibrahimovic and Mings, but said of Mings: “He knows what he did.”
Ibrahimovic later saw a penalty saved by Artur Boruc as United missed out on a chance to move into the Champions League places.
If Friend writes in his match report that he did not see either of the incidents involving Ibrahimovic and Mings, the pair could face retrospective disciplinary action from England’s Football Association.
The standard punishment for violent conduct in the Premier League is a three-game ban.
Ibrahimovic, 35, is United’s top scorer with 26 goals and scored twice in their 3-2 League Cup final win over Southampton last weekend.
Adding to the confusion, Bournemouth’s Andy Surman was sent off following a push on Ibrahimovic, but only after United left-back Luke Shaw reminded Friend the midfielder had already been booked.
Surman was booked for clattering Shaw in the 33rd minute and was shown a second yellow card for shoving Ibrahimovic in the aftermath of his altercation with Mings.
But Friend did not show him a red card until around two minutes later.
Marcos Rojo put United ahead in the 23rd minute, but Joshua King levelled from the spot five minutes before half-time following a foul on Marc Pugh by Phil Jones.