Guangzhou Evergrande’s coach Marcello Lippi stormed on to the pitch to confront the referee after the Asian champions had two players sent off in their 1-0 first leg defeat to Western Sydney Wanderers in the Asian Champions League quarter-finals.
The 2006 World Cup-winning Italy coach strode on to the pitch to remonstrate with the Emirati referee Mohammed Abdulla Hassan Mohamed after the midfielder Gao Lin and the defender Zhang Linpeng were both shown straight red cards.
Zhang was dismissed for an elbow on Mark Bridge after 88 minutes and Gao followed in stoppage time after being adjudged to have fouled Saba, the Brazilian.
Lippi was still scathing afterwards, accusing the referee of incompetence.
“The first one I didn’t see very well but the second one was right in front of me and was not a red card,” he said through a translator.
“You know me from the World Cup and the Champions League, I am not like this, I am an educated man. I know I shouldn’t go on the pitch but I just wanted to ask him to explain his decision.”
Lippi’s mood was not helped when he was prevented from speaking to the referee after the match. He concluded the press conference shouting in Italian – with neither his English nor Mandarin translator able to keep up.
“I didn’t want to talk about winning the World Cup or anything, I just wanted to ask him for an explanation,” he said.
Victorious Wanderers manager Tony Popovic had no sympathy for Lippi.
“I don’t know what he’s so upset about,” he said. “We all disagree with decisions but we do it from the touchline. But you can’t have coaches going on the pitch and manhandling players.”
Still, if nothing else, Lippi’s animated reaction shows that even in the autumn of his career, working in a relative backwater footballing-wise, the passion for coaching still burns brightly.