In the dying stages of Ukraine’s 2-1 victory over Moldova in last night’s World Cup qualifier, Ukraine were reduced to ten men when Shakhtar Donetsk’s Taras Stepanenko was sent off for a flying kick to the head of a hapless Moldovan player.
In extraordinary scenes, Stepanenko nearly decapitates the Moldovan player. Amazingly, he desperately tries to plead his innocence before looking on in disbelief after the referee sends him off.
Comparing this to other incidents, it has to be considered as one of the worst challenges in recent times. The Moldovan player tries to head the ball to safety yet Stepanenko has a rush of blood to the head, lifting his foot at least five feet into the air and studding the player in the neck.
Looking back at the controversy surrounding Callum McManaman’s challenge on Massadio Haidara recently, and last night’s tackle has to be considered a lot worse.
Although McManaman’s challenge was reckless, it was not life threatening as it was a tackle to the leg. This type of challenge is far more dangerous and he's lucky that the player isn’t seriously injured.
If Nani’s infamous sending off against Real Madrid in last month’s Champions League quarter-final earned him a one-match ban, then Stepanenko’s attempt at Taekwondo will surely see him sitting out the next few international fixtures.
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