Steve Bruce was left fuming at the “horror” challenge which left Matt Ritchie needing stitches in three wounds as Newcastle bowed out of the Carabao Cup on penalties against Leicester.
Ritchie was caught by Foxes midfielder Hamza Choudhury shortly before half-time at St James’ Park with referee Tim Robinson brandishing a yellow card, but no more, and the Scotland international was unable to resume after the break.
Speaking after seeing his side go down 4-2 in the penalty shoot-out following a 1-1 draw, the Magpies’ head coach said: “I have to say the mess Matt Ritchie is in, the referee is five yards away and if there had been VAR tonight or whatever…
“It’s a horror challenge and I don’t want people sent off and red cards, but when I see the state of Matty’s leg… We fear ankle damage, he’s got three cuts which all need stitches.
“He’s a mess and the referee is five yards away from him, which is difficult to take when I see him like that.
“As I say, I don’t want anybody ever sent off, but when it’s a horror challenge like that… It wasn’t good. No wonder he didn’t come out for the second half.”
However, Foxes assistant manager Chris Davies was quick to defend Choudhury as he stood in for Brendan Rodgers at the post-match press conference.
He said: “It was a strong tackle. He’s a competitor – if the ball is there to be won, he’ll go for it. There was certainly no malice whatsoever from Hamza.
“As I say, anyone who sees Hamza play knows he’s competitive and if the ball is there to be won, he’ll try to win it, so that’s how I saw it.”
That incident came after James Maddison had handed the visitors a 34th-minute lead with a free-kick which took an outrageous deflection, although the game went to penalties courtesy of Yoshinori Muto’s equaliser eight minutes after the break.
The visitors scored four of their five penalties, including Maddison’s audacious Panenka effort and although Harvey Barnes saw his attempt saved, Jonjo Shelvey and Isaac Hayden were denied by Kasper Schmeichel.
They will face Sky Bet Championship Luton in the third round, and Davies said: “They’re all going to be tough games. We’ve seen Luton play – obviously, they’ve been on a good run, promotion and a couple of results just recently, so we expect that to be a tough game.”
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