Porto 2-2 Sporting: Pepe among four players sent off in epic 40-man brawl

Pepe was in the thick of the brawl
(Image credit: Getty)


A thrilling match between title rivals Porto and Sporting Lisbon descended into chaos on Friday night as a huge fight erupted at full-time, led by Pepe.

The veteran Porto defender is synonymous with on-pitch violence but incredibly had not been sent off for 11 years in a league match.

But that surprising run came to an end in the last few seconds of the top-of-the-table clash against champions Sporting at the Estadio do Dragao.

Tensions were already running high after Sporting had thrown away a two-goal lead and had defender Sebastian Coates sent off early in the second half for two bookings.

Things reached boiling point though when Pepe furiously appealed for a penalty in added time when he appeared to be kicked in the head by Sporting’s Joao Palhinha as he tried to nod home a loose ball following a superb save from Antonio Adan.

The referee ignored Pepe’s wailing and when he blew the whistle at full-time, after nine minutes of stoppage time, all hell broke loose.

Pepe began the fight in the goalmouth and team-mates, substitutes and coaching staff all quickly joined in.

Palhinha, who had already been booked, was shown a straight red card while his team-mate Bruno Tabata, who had been substituted moments earlier, was also given a red.

Porto’s substitute goalkeeper Agustin Marchesin was also shown a red and then so was Pepe, who had to be held back by members of the Porto coaching staff and then head coach Sergio Conceicao, who acted as peacemaker.

Just when things appeared to be calming down, a ball boy ran over to shove Sporting’s Matheus Reis, causing more chaos as the youngster was then pursued by stewards.

Even though Porto were aggrieved not to get the penalty, the draw was a good result for them, keeping them six points clear of Sporting at the top of the table and maintaining their unbeaten record in the league this season.

Pepe's surprising red card tally

For one of the most physical players in world football, Pepe has a surprisingly clean disciplinary record (seriously, trust us).

Before Friday's scuffle, he had not been sent off in a league match since Real Madrid's 6-2 win over Sevilla in December 2011, for a second booking.

For his last straight red card in a league game, we have to go all the way back to the infamous night of 21 April 2009, when he was sent off for kicking Getafe's Francisco Casquero in the leg and then in the back in a fit of rage. 

The Portuguese was given a 10-game ban for the incident, which gave him a reputation as one of football's most violent players.

Leaving aside that (admittedly brutal) moment of madness, Pepe has mostly kept out of trouble, at least in domestic football.

He was sent off with the globe watching in Portugal's World Cup 2014 match with Germany for head-butting Thomas Muller. 

He was also shown a red card on the slightly less prestigious stage of the Turkish domestic Cup in 2018 when playing for Besiktas against Fenerbahce.

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Richard Martin is an experienced football writer, editor and social media producer. Before returning to London, he spent 10 years in Spain as a football correspondent and has attended over 600 games across 16 countries, his favourite being Argentina. He has also worked for Reuters, The Telegraph, The Daily Mail, The Times and AS.