• Ligue 1

Beckham temper flares on St Etienne return

ESPN staff
March 18, 2013

David Beckham had to be held back as tempers flared at the end of Paris Saint-Germain's draw at Saint Etienne on Sunday with the visitors enraged by a horrific Brandao challenge on Thiago Silva.

Making his first Ligue 1 start, Beckham, 37, had a number of run-ins with Brandao, 32, throughout the game before the pair clashed angrily after the full-time whistle. A picture in L'Equipe clearly shows the Brazilian striker pushing the ex-England captain in the face before PSG defender Alex intervened to drag his irate team-mate away.

The root of Beckham's fury was Brandao's physical approach to the game, and in particular his over-the-top challenge on Thiago Silva, which led to the ball breaking for Francois Clerc to fire a superb equaliser 18 minutes from time and complete the hosts' comeback from two goals down to claim a point.

"I really regret the incidents leading up to the equaliser. There was a dangerous foul on Thiago Silva. Everyone saw it, but the goal was given and it's hard to accept," PSG goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu is reported as saying in L'Equipe. "That's why we were annoyed afterwards. It's normal. We know a Saint-Etienne player [Jeremy Clement] had his leg broken not so long ago, and the goal should have been chalked off."

Though immediate parallels with the challenge of Nice's Valentin Esseyric on Clement, which left the ex-PSG midfielder with a badly broken ankle and a minimum six-month lay-off, were inevitable, initial fears were quickly allayed and Silva, 28, played out the remainder of the game.

PSG medical staff have diagnosed a badly bruised shin, though the injury will not be enough to prevent the former AC Milan centre-back joining up with the Brazil squad for Thursday's friendly with Italy in Geneva.

"There was nothing. Both of us went for the ball and there was contact. That's football. It's the referee who decides whether or not it's a goal," Brandao countered post-game. "I wasn't trying to do something bad. I went to play the ball, but football is a contact sport.

"I'm a warrior and I never give up on anything. That's the way it is."

Along with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Beckham vented his feelings towards match referee Antony Gautier over the incident as well as after a late, well-positioned free-kick taken by the former Manchester United and Real Madrid midfielder struck a Saint-Etienne wall that had advanced on him before the ball had been hit.

"He showed that he could perform consistently for 90 minutes, and that he's in good physical condition," PSG coach Carlo Ancelotti said of Beckham, who made a first return to the scene of his notorious sending-off against Argentina at the 1998 World Cup. "He was very important in terms of directing play.

"I have no regrets about the result."

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