Zlatan Ibrahimovic claims that he did not deliberately land a kick to the head of Seamus Coleman during Manchester United's frustrating 1-1 draw against Everton on Sunday (4 December). Some have called for the veteran striker to face retrospective action from The Football Association (FA) after a controversial second-half incident that may not have been spotted by match referee Michael Oliver.
After failing to control an overhit cross, Ibrahimovic lost out in a tussle for possession with Coleman near the corner flag and subsequently gave away a free-kick with his overzealous attempts to shackle the Republic of Ireland right-back as he looked to cut inside. While both men fell to the floor, Ibrahimovic appeared to leave Coleman in some discomfort after catching him on the top of the head with the back of his left boot.
Defending his actions after the full-time whistle, he told MUTV: "It was a physical game. They played hard. I heard one of the commentators say I kicked someone in the head on purpose but it was a 50-50 duel and he pulled me down.
"Trust me, if I want to kick someone in the head, I know how to kick someone in the head and make him fall asleep. That is the only thing I have to say."
Ibrahimovic gave United the lead shortly before half-time at Goodison Park, feeding on a long pass from Anthony Martial and making Maarten Stekelenburg pay the price for his rash goalkeeping with a brilliantly executed lob that bounced against the crossbar and hit the post before finally trickling over the line.
The confident former Sweden captain's sixth goal in his last five matches, it was not enough to secure victory for Jose Mourinho's side after much-maligned substitute Marouane Fellaini allowed Leighton Baines to net a late equaliser from the penalty spot by bringing down Idrissa Gana Gueye in hapless fashion just four minutes after being summoned to replace Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
Tireless midfielder Gana was also the victim of an ugly, two-footed challenge from Marcos Rojo. The United defender somehow escaped with only a yellow card for that early offence and a succession of ex-Premier League referees, including the likes of Graham Poll, Howard Webb and Keith Hackett, have all claimed in columns for various newspapers today that the tackle was definitely worthy of red.
"Marcos Rojo's tackle on Idrissa Gueye was a clear red card," Webb wrote in The Times. "Michael Oliver is a really great referee and he will be gutted when he sees it back. As soon as a player leaves the ground and jumps in with two feet, studs first, straight legs, it's a red-card offence. It is serious foul play because he will be using excessive force and endangering the safety of the opponent."