Friday, April 27th, 2012
By the end of the matchValencia and Atletico Madrid hated each other.
Thursday’s Europa League all-Spanish semi-final clash between Los Che and Atleti – the fourth time the sides had faced each other this term – ended on a bitter note with the dismissal of Tiago Mendes.
Problems stemmed from a handball incident in the Madrid box.
The hosts had appealed for a handball against Tiago when he went up for a header in the area with Tino Costa but the referee, after initially appearing to point to the spot, chose not to give a penalty. Replays proved him correct, showing the ball had struck Costa’s hand rather than Tiago’s.
Minutes later the football sides of things melted into the background. The players – egged on by a blood-boiled Tiago, slappy-happy Valencia striker Aduriz, and a crowd of unfriendly teammates – began pushing and shoving, and then Jordi Alba took centre-stage.
Alba, unprovoked, twice slapped a retreating Tiago when the Atletico player’s back was turned. Tiago reacted like he was shooing away a mosquito, with a flick of his heel onto Alba’s ankle.
That flick, however, sparked a massive injury to Alba. The number 17 immediately his the deck as if he’d stepped on an IED, only for the pain to be so excoriating that by the time he was horizontal it had fully consumed his cranium.
Alba’s actions were pathetic.
Eventually someone had to go, and Tiago paid the price. The former Chelsea man was reported to have slapped Roberto Soldado during a mass confrontation, although incident was noticeably absent from the TV footage.