Austrian players were furious after Zlatan Ibrahimovic escaped a red card for an elbow on the Bayern Munich left-back David Alaba during Monday’s Euro 2016 qualifier in Vienna.
The incensed players accused the referee, Pavel Kralovec, of being scared of the Sweden striker.
Ibrahimovic, making his 100th international appearance, caught Alaba in the face with a flailing arm in the first half of the 1-1 draw, but the official waved play on.
Austria defender Aleksandar Dragovic said: “It was a red card for me. The referee was scared of Zlatan.”
Ibrahimovic did receive a booking two minutes after the Alaba incident, for a lunge on Martin Harnik, and the Paris Saint-Germain striker was quick to play the situation after the match.
“The referee has everything under control,” he said.
“He [Alaba] goes into me twice and the third time I try to shield the ball and he [Alaba] is 1.50m or 1.60m tall and then he obviously reaches up to my elbow. The referee blew for a free-kick so, of course, he has got the situation under control.”
Ibrahimovic is no stranger to the dark arts. Having spent much of his career defending himself on the battlefields of Italian football, he has, as you can see, learned to look after himself.