Sir Alex Ferguson branded Luis Suarez a “disgrace” as the racism feud between Manchester United and Liverpool exploded once more in a stormy Premier League clash at Old Trafford in Manchester, England.
Two goals from Wayne Rooney saw United score a 2-1 victory that sent the champions back to the top of the table, one point clear of Manchester City.
However, the result almost became a footnote to another acrimonious encounter between the two bitter rivals, with Suarez lighting the fuse before kick-off after refusing to shake United captain Patrice Evra’s hand.
Suarez’s pre-match snub came as he returned to Liverpool’s starting lineup for the first time since his eight-match ban for racially abusing Evra during the two clubs’ meeting at Anfield in October last year.
Evra later reportedly attempted to confront Suarez over the incident at halftime, sparking a melee in the tunnel that required the intervention of police and stewards.
A disgusted Ferguson lashed out at Suarez after the game, saying the Uruguayan had tarnished the reputation of Liverpool and should never play for the club again.
“I couldn’t believe it. I just could not believe it,” Ferguson said.
“[Suarez] is a disgrace to Liverpool Football Club. He shouldn’t be allowed to play for Liverpool again,” he added. “The history that club’s got, he could have caused a riot. It was terrible what he did.”
Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish later insisted he had not seen the handshake snub, but lost his cool with a television interviewer at the suggestion it had led to the halftime tunnel bust-up.
“It’s bang out of order to blame Luis Suarez for anything that happened today. How many bookings were there? The fans had a bit of banter,” Dalglish said.
In later matches on Saturday, Harry Redknapp enjoyed a triumphant end to a tumultuous week as Tottenham thrashed Newcastle 5-0 at White Hart Lane.
Redknapp, who was acquitted of tax evasion charges on Wednesday, was serenaded by Spurs fans throughout as his team ran riot against the Magpies, taking a 4-0 halftime lead with goals from new signing Louis Saha (two), Benoit Assou-Ekotto and Niko Kranjcar.
Emmanuel Adebayor added a fifth in the second half as Tottenham tightened their grip on third place.
However, pressure mounted on Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas after the Blues crashed 2-0 at mid-table Everton.
A Steven Pienaar goal after five minutes gave Everton the lead and Denis Stracqualursi doubled the Toffees’ tally midway through the second half as Chelsea were squeezed out of fourth place.
A 90th-minute goal from Thierry Henry gave Arsenal a 2-1 win over Sunderland at the Stadium of Light to see Arsene Wenger’s men move into fourth — ahead of Chelsea on goals scored.
James McLean fired Sunderland ahead on 70 minutes before Aaron Ramsey leveled for the Gunners five minutes later. Loan signing Henry — making his farewell Premier League appearance — then volleyed in the winner deep into injury time to sink the Black Cats.
“Unbelievable — Thierry is more impressive than before — he only plays 20 minutes and he scores,” Wenger said. “Sunderland played well and we showed exceptional spirit and character. I’m sorry to be losing Thierry, but that is what we accepted at the start.”
Blackburn grabbed three precious points with a 3-2 win over fellow strugglers Queens Park Rangers at Ewood Park.