Harry Maguire has explained he did not intend to kick Michy Batshuayi after an incident in the first half of Manchester United's 2-0 win over Chelsea.
Maguire scored United's second goal at Stamford Bridge on Monday, heading home from Bruno Fernandes' corner as the visitors moved to within three points of Frank Lampard's side.
However, Chelsea were angered midway through the first half when Maguire avoided any punishment after appearing to kick out at Batshuayi as both tumbled over the sideline.
There was a VAR check for violent conduct, but Maguire was not penalised and the England international claimed he had not intended to hurt the Chelsea forward.
"I can see why [it could be seen as a kick]. I knew I caught him," Maguire told Sky Sports.
"I thought he was going to fall on me, my natural reaction was to straighten a leg, so if he was to fall on me, it was to hold him up. It probably looks worse than it was.
"It wasn't a kick out, there was no intent, it was just my natural reaction to straighten my leg and if he was going to fall on me, to hold him up. I did catch him, I knew at the time but I think it's the right decision.
"I didn't have an intent to hurt him or kick him. It was just a natural reaction to straighten my leg, it wasn't a kick. I've got studs on my boot, makes it a little bit worse. I apologised to him but it was nice the referee has seen sense."
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was also adamant his captain was innocent.
"You want the right decision to be made and you're happy that they are made and they weren't made without that help and it's been shown a few times that we needed that help," Solskjaer told Sky Sports when asked of the major officiating calls, with VAR also ruling out two Chelsea goals.
"I wouldn't think [it was a red card]. I think he's just protecting himself there, looks like he's getting a lad over him and he's put his leg where it does hurt."
United are up to seventh, with the race for Champions League qualification becoming increasingly congested, and Maguire stressed the importance of carrying on their form.
"This season we've been far too inconsistent," he said. "We won at Manchester City, beat Chelsea at home, got a point against Liverpool.
"But we've let ourselves down against the teams when the pressure is on to break them down. Next Sunday we've got Watford at home, we're not getting carried away because it's a massive game and we need to get the three points."