Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira refused to comment after he appeared to kick an Everton fan involved in the pitch invasion after their Premier League thriller.
Everton supporters invaded the Goodison Park pitch as they came from 2-0 down to win 3-2 and secure survival in the top flight after their relegation battle. Footage shown on Sky Sports News showed a fan appearing to goad Vieira as he made his way across the pitch and back to the dressing rooms.
The Arsenal legend then appeared to be shown turning around and reacting to the provocation and aiming a kick in the direction of the supporter. Asked about the incident after the game, Vieira said: “I do not having anything to say about that.”
A host of ugly pitch invasion incidents have made headlines this week. Sheffield United star Billy Sharp was headbutted by a Nottingham Forest fan after their play-off semi-final defeat on Tuesday. The attacker, Robert Biggs, has since been sentenced to 24 weeks in prison and ordered to pay £500 compensation after pleading guilty to assault causing actual bodily harm.
Fans also invaded the pitch during the League Two play-off semi-final second leg between Northampton and Mansfield on Wednesday. Mansfield’s Jordan Bowery was shoved by a supporter whilst a flare also appeared to be thrown towards players during the game.
Former Manchester United and Aston Villa striker Dion Dublin criticised supporters for going on the pitch.
He said: “”Having fans on the pitch is not the way forward, we have to stop letting fans on the pitch. You can’t have players in fear of their lives if players are on the pitch. For any players or member of staff on the pitch, it’s a scary place to be.”
The incident appearing to involve Vieira added a sour note to a night of celebration for Everton, who have been flirting with relegation from the Premier League for the first time. Vieira, meanwhile, was left “disappointed” after letting a two-goal lead slip.
He told Sky Sports: “Disappointed as in the first half we played some really good football and controlled the tempo of the game and tactically. We came into the second half with confidence but did not respect the game as much as in the first half. Slowly they started to get into the game. The first goal woke up the crowd and it became difficult for us. The game went into a fight and we could not cope with it.
“We lost control. Tactically and technically we could not keep the ball or move it quickly enough. It became difficult to create chances. We didn’t score the the third and they come back. We need to play with more maturity. But that is what we need to do to become a better team.
“In the final game we want to finish on a high. The fans at home have been really good to us and being behind the team. We have to give them what they deserve with a really good performance.”
After securing survival under Frank Lampard, defender Michael Keane told the BBC : “Our fans were unbelievable and I’ve never heard anything like it.
“Pure relief, it has been a hard season but so proud how the club has come together the last six weeks and a platform we need to build on and make sure it never happens again.”
Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who scored the winner, told Sky Sports: “Unbelievably special. The amount of pressure on us, going 2-0 down. To get to 2-2, I just had the feeling we could nick one. I just had to make sure I was in the right area. An incredible experience.
“What a rollercoaster football is some times. It is why we love the game and why the fans love it. Ideally we wouldn’t be in the situation we have been but when it produces moments like that, to go from low to high, I’m not sure I’ll sleep tonight.
“The way they have been welcoming us into the ground is unbelievable. Blue flares everywhere. They have made the difference. When we got the first goal they made the difference. Some fans have questioned my commitment to the club but I always give 100% and I hope my goal and how I worked showed that.”
In a separate interview with beIN Sports, he hailed Frank Lampard’s changes, adding: “The manager switched it to a 4-3-3. Alex Iwobi came on in midfield as did Dele (Alli) – forward thinking players. Ultimately I thought that made the difference.”