Tensions boiled over late on in one of the weekend’s bigger FA Cup upsets.
Leeds United were eliminated from the competition in the third round after falling to a 2-1 defeat at League Two Newport County on Sunday afternoon.
A winner for the hosts in the 89th minute sent tempers into overdrive, with Leeds’ star player Samuel Saiz, who was brought on by manager Thomas Christiansen in the 75th minute to find the deciding goal, sent off at the very death.
The reason for Saiz’s dismissal was initially unknown, although rumours of spitting were confirmed after the game.
Confirmed that Saiz was shown a red card by Mike Dean for spitting at one of Newport’s players. #lufc
— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) January 7, 2018
Referee Mike Dean gave Saiz his marching orders for the off-the-ball incident which could have implications that stretch far beyond this weekend’s FA Cup disappointment.
If found guilty, Saiz could be hit with a six-game ban by the FA, meaning he would be out of action until late February and miss several key fixtures as his side aim to secure a play-off place.
Christiansen claimed he didn’t see the incident on Sunday but chose to believe that his player was innocent.
“I don’t know, I didn’t see it,” Christiansen said. “I don’t know, when I know I will come back.
“If it’s right, why he got the red card, it’s a problem. But I believe that he didn’t do it.”
It’s not the first time this season that the Spaniard has been accused of spitting.
In August, Port Vale manager Michael Brown claimed that Saiz spat in the face of one of his players during their 4-1 Carabao Cup defeat in which Saiz scored a hat-trick on his Leeds debut.
“The guy who scored three goals spits in Joe Davis’ face in the 40th minute and it is very hard to take,” Brown said. “So that certainly knocked us off balance.
“We asked their staff to take him off, they ignored that and he scored three goals. That is why it was getting a bit heated down in the technical area.”
Saiz was ultimately cleared by the FA of any wrongdoing against Port Vale.