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Dublin: 6 °C Sunday 29 March, 2020

Nigel de Jong escapes red card for challenge that sees opponent leave the pitch in a wheelchair

The LA Galaxy midfielder has been criticised for the foul on Darlington Nagbe of the Portland Timbers.

DEFENDING MLS CUP champions the Portland Timbers and five-time winners LA Galaxy played out a 1-1 draw at StubHub Centre last night.

Nigerian forward Fanendo Adi put the Timbers ahead before Portland defender Nat Borchers scored an own-goal late on, but the biggest talking point of the game was a challenge by Nigel de Jong in the 72nd minute.

Dutch midfielder De Jong threw himself into a 50/50 with Darlington Nagbe coming off worse for wear.

While De Jong, who joined the Galaxy from AC Milan back in January, escaped with a yellow card, US international Nagbe had to leave the pitch in a wheelchair.

Tough-tackling De Jong, who infamously kicked Spain’s Xabi Alonso in the chest during the 2010 World Cup final, has been heavily-criticised for the studs-up challenge, but insists there was no intent.

“It was a ball that came my way,” De Jong said. ”It was 50-50 and normally I always have those balls. But I went over the ball and caught the ball a little bit and caught most of his ankle,”

It was a pity — it was never my intention to hurt him. He’s a good kid, as well, and I said that after the game, as well, to him.

“It’s a pity, but that’s football, as well. It was never my intention, and when a ball comes in that situation, you always go for it 100%. Unfortunately, I caught him.”

What do you make of the tackle? 

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Ben Blake

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