Jonny Evans and Papiss Cisse in spit controversy: Manchester United defender and Newcastle striker could face action following spitting exchange
Jonny Evans and Papisse Cisse could face disciplinary action after appearing to spit at each other during a confrontation during Manchester United's game against Newcastle.
The pair were involved in a coming together during the first half of the Premier League encounter at St James' Park that United won thanks to a late Ashley Young goal.
After a tangle of legs near the halfway line, the pair then confronted each other.
As Cisse rose from the ground, the overbearing Evans appeared to spit down in the direction of the Newcastle forward.
Cisse then seemed to respond with a spit of his own, coming in close to the Manchester United defender before emitting saliva, however it appeared to miss Evans.
Neither player was booked at the time by referee Anthony Taylor but if the official missed the incident retrospective action could be taken against the pair.
Last season Hull City player George Boyd was retrospectively banned for three matches after being found guilty of spitting at Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart.
Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal insisted he could not imagine defender Jonny Evans spitting at a fellow professional after his side's dramatic Barclays Premier League victory at Newcastle.
Ashley Young's 89th-minute strike snatched a 1-0 win for the visitors which keeps them on course for a top-four finish, but the game was marred by a first-half fracas between Northern Ireland international Evans and the Magpies' Senegal frontman Papiss Cisse, with television replays suggesting both men spat as tempers flared.
Neither Van Gaal nor opposite number John Carver saw the incident, which happened behind referee Anthony Taylor's back and seems certain to be examined by Football Association disciplinary chiefs, but the Dutchman was quick to defend his player.
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. I cannot imagine."
Newcastle head coach Carver admitted he was unaware of the details of the incident until asked about it in a post-match television interview.
He said: "I am aware of it now because the guys on TV have just made me aware of it. 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. That's all I have seen.
"As far as I am concerned, I need to have a look at it."
United extended their run to just two defeats in 22 games in all competitions courtesy of Young's late intervention, which came when Mehdi Abeid, under intense pressure from Wayne Rooney, stabbed an ill-advised back-pass towards keeper Tim Krul, whose efforts to clear only served to tee up the midfielder.
Van Gaal felt it was no more than his team deserved on a night when they dominated for long periods and Krul, who was his and Holland's World Cup penalty shoot-out hero in Brazil last summer, had produced a string of fine saves to keep them at bay.
He said: "When you lose points - and we have done that a lot of times in this competition - when you are the better team, then it is very disappointing. That's also a big influence in the mental state of my team.
"But today, we rewarded ourselves at the end of the match in a fantastic moment because all the competitors have won also their games.
"Now we are still fourth, we have dominated the game in an away match, difficult ground, so everybody is full of confidence to play against Arsenal in the FA Cup quarter-finals, and that's very important."
However, things might have panned out very differently had Taylor awarded a 10th-minute penalty to the home side after Chris Smalling appeared to trip striker Emmanuel Riviere inside the box.
Carver said: "We don't have the same ability as Manchester United - Manchester United have world-class players - but we have matched them for 89 minutes.
"But what is even more disappointing is the fact that in the first half, a blatant penalty (was) not given. Anthony Taylor is a human being, he hasn't given it. He sees it once, we see it time and time again and I saw it at half-time about five times and it's still a penalty.
"But he's a human being. He's made a mistake and I'm a bit frustrated with that."
Newcastle fans at least had something to cheer when midfielder Jonas Gutierrez came on as a 65th-minute substitute, his first appearance since recovering from testicular cancer.
Carver said: "Jonas going on wasn't a sentimental decision, it was a football decision and it was the right decision."