A stamp by Real Madrid's
Pepe on Lionel Messi's hand had Jose Mourinho on the back foot
after a 2-1 at home loss to Barcelona their King's Cup
quarter-final first leg on Wednesday.
The Portugal international was seen to nudge into Messi when
the World Player of the Year was on the floor after a tackle,
then stood on his hand as he walked past around 20 minutes from
the end of the game.
When asked about Pepe during the post-match news conference,
Real coach Mourinho first said he had not seen the incident.
A second reporter asked if Pepe's action would merit
internal discipline from the club if he thought Pepe had stood
on Messi's hand intentionally.
"Obviously if it is intentional, is it punishable," Mourinho
Real's deployment of the robust centre-back in a midfield
destroyer role alongside Xabi Alonso and Lassana Diarra signaled
their intentions in seeking to disrupt Barcelona's trademark
link-up play and look for swift counter-attacks.
Pepe, sent off in the Champions League semi-finals against
Barca last year, picked up a yellow card early in the first half
after catching Sergio Busquets's foot with a late lunge.
Later, some theatrical play-acting after Cesc Fabregas's
hand brushed across Pepe's body - rolling around clutching his
face - drew derision from home fans, getting increasingly
frustrated as Barca dominated.
Guardiola was asked about the incident but said: "The
players have said something, but I haven't seen the images,
there isn't a TV in the dressing room. It's up to you to comment
Pepe's Portuguese compatriot Ricardo Carvalho, after a
making a surprise return to the Madrid starting XI, defended his
"He plays near the limit sometimes," he said. "But he always
tries to get the ball and plays cleanly."
Mourinho substituted Pepe before the end of the game to
whistles from the Bernabeu crowd.
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