Manchester United's Jesse Lingard stands up for club-mate Marcus Rashford
Manchester United academy graduate Jesse Lingard lost his temper after fellow team-mate Marcus Rashford was assaulted in the World Cup qualifier between England and Slovenia. England maintained their unbeaten record in the World Cup qualifiers after holding Slovenia to a 0-0 draw in Ljubljana.
Deep into the second half of the game, with few minutes remaining on the watch, players of both the teams almost came to blows after a rash challenge by Gary Cahill. The brawl escalated quickly, as it appeared that Aljaz Struna had stuck his fist into the throat of Rashford.
The 18-year-old, a second-half substitute, found support in club-mate and close friend Lingard. The 23-year-old winger reacted furiously and went up to confront Struna. Eventually, Lingard pulled off the Slovenian defender as Joe Hart calmed him down. The referee for the game, Deniz Aytekin diffused the unstable situation before proceeding to book Cahill, Lingard and Struna.
This is not the first incident where Lingard has stood up for Rashford. In last season's Manchester derby, Rashford had a spat with Manchester City defender Martin Demichelis after being felled in the penalty area. City defenders gathered around the teenager as Lingard rushed to the scene to aid his friend. Rashford had the last laugh at the Etihad Stadium though, when his goal after fooling Demichelis with his pace won United the match 1-0.
Southgate was not happy
However, interim England manager Gareth Southgate criticised Lingard's actions and warned the winger to control his aggression on the field. According to Manchester Evening News, Southgate said, “I’m told he reacted to someone raising their hands at Marcus. That’s something he’s got to cut out. There’s a danger you get a red card in this sort of game when there’s inconsistency in a lot of the decisions. There’s even more of a risk."
Both Rashford and Lingard are United academy graduates who made their mark under Louis Van Gaal. While Rashford's meteoric rise is England football's most famous story in the last year, Lingard scored an incredible goal to help United win the FA Cup final at Wembley.
The two share a close friendship, and their rapport is evident off the field as well. Manchester United fans would love to see the duo playing well together at the Old Trafford in the years to come.