Valencia defender Gabriel Paulista has apologised for his horrendous challenge on Real Madrid forward Vinicius Junior and insists “it was never my intention to harm him”.
Gabriel was issued a straight red card for a wild kick on Vinicius in the 72nd minute of Valencia’s 2-0 loss at Santiago Bernabeu on Thursday.
Vinicius, who had earlier doubled his side’s lead after Marco Asensio had opened the scoring, was sent flying to the ground and a scuffle between both sets of players ensued.
Madrid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois later called for his team-mate to be better protected by officials, having been on the end of a number of bad tackles this season.
Former Arsenal defender Gabriel is now facing a two-game LaLiga ban after the Spanish Football Federation’s disciplinary committee added another game to his suspension.
The 32-year-old, who will miss games against Girona and Athletic Bilbao, took to social media on Friday to apologise to Vinicius.
“I accept the criticism and the red card,” Gabriel posted. “I am a physical player, but also a noble one. I respect Vinicius and it was never my intention to harm him.
“We are struggling a lot in this great club, going through a difficult period and emotions are running high.
“Sometimes it is impossible to control one’s emotions. I lost control and I sincerely ask for forgiveness.”
Vinicius was able to play the remainder of the match and took part in training on Friday ahead of Madrid’s league meeting with Real Mallorca.
The Brazil international has been fouled 103 times this season, which is at least 19 more than any other player across Europe’s top five leagues in all competitions.
Forty-six of those fouls have been in the final third – exactly double the number of Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar, who is the next highest on the list.