A horror tackle caused a mass brawl that marred the ending to the CONCACAF Champions League last-16 tie between Philadelphia Union and Costa Rican side Saprissa.
Union were holding on to a 1-0 lead in stoppage time, with the Major League Soccer outfit having opened the scoring through Polish forward Kacper Przybylko.
They had to withstand a barrage of late efforts on goal from the home side.
Union defender Kai Wagner managed to block one shot away from danger. He then rushed towards the ball in order to regain possession for his side.
However, despite getting there first, the German was then taken out by a shocking slide tackle by Saprissa’s Ricardo Blanco.
Wagner’s teammates quickly surrounded the 31-year-old, before the referee charged over to the scene in order to attempt to cool the tensions.
A mass brawl then broke out between the two sides by the corner flag. Members of both sets of coaching staff then joined them to try and separate the players. Even CONCACAF officials were forced to enter the pitch.
All that took place with the stricken Wagner still grounded, although the 24-year-old did eventually get back to his feet.
Blanco escaped with a yellow card to his name, although there was certainly an argument for a red card to be shown given the brutal nature of the challenge.
After the brawl had finally been broken up – and the main offenders identified – the referee booked five players, including Blanco.
With that, the full-time whistle was blown in the first leg. Both sides now must get set for another 90 minutes of no doubt action-packed football on April 15.
Following that clash, the MLS season gets underway on April 17. Union travel to Columbus Crew in round one of the fixtures, with their first home game set to take place against David Beckham’s Inter Miami a week later.
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