Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has admitted that Cristiano Ronaldo deserved to be shown a red card for reacting to provocation.
The Portugal winger was sent off for appearing to headbutt Richard Hughes in United’s draw at Portsmouth.
“I have tried to look at the incident and there was nothing conclusive there,” said Ferguson.
“In fact you cannot really see anything. But my take is that he was provoked and that he has fallen for it. But the referee, Steve Bennett, sent him off at City and he will have loved that opportunity [at Fratton Park] to send him off.
“Cristiano has fallen into the trap of [provocation], which has happened to him a few times. He has only himself to blame and it left us with 10 men. He’ll miss three games. It’s a big blow for us.
“I don’t know whether Cristiano lifted his hand but, if you do, there is no other course [for the referee]. You get provoked and you have to have a bit of calmness. You have to remind yourself that you are a better player than these players and that is why they are doing it.”
Bennett, came in for criticism from Ferguson for failing to protect his players.
“Carlos Tevez didn’t get any protection either, I don’t know how many times he got fouled from behind. He had to suffer a lot.”