Georgia Stanway was shown a straight red card in Saturday’s Manchester derby for a horrendous tackle reminiscent of Roy Keane’s some 20 years earlier.
City’s Stanway – a natural midfielder filling in at right-back – flew in with her studs up and connected with Leah Galton on her upper left thigh.
Referee Rebecca Welch had no choice but to show the England international a straight red card for the vastly-mistimed challenge, which left Galton crumpled on the floor.
While the United forward was able to continue, the gruesome incident evoked strong memories of Keane’s dreadful challenge on Alf-Inge Haaland in the Manchester derby in April 2001.
The former United captain inflicted a career-ending injury on Haaland late in the match after lunging in on the Norwegian at knee-height.
Keane later admitted in his autobiography it was a pre-meditated act of violence in revenge for Haaland’s comments four years earlier, when he accused the Irishman of faking an injury.
Having served a three-match ban in the immediate aftermath of the incident, the Football Association handed Keane a further five-match ban after his book was released in 2002.
United and City drew 1-1 that day and the points were shared once again on Saturday as the two clubs played out an entertaining 2-2 draw at Leigh Sports Village.
Despite Stanway’s sending-off minutes earlier, Khadija Shaw gave the visitors the lead in the 38th minute.
United hit back through Lucy Staniforth in the second half and Alessia Russo put the hosts ahead in the 75th minute, only for substitute Ellen White to equalise in the closing stages.
The result leaves City, who finished two points behind champions Chelsea last season, down in ninth in the Women’s Super League as their underwhelming start continues.
City boss Gareth Taylor’s squad is severely depleted by injuries and Stanway’s red card and subsequent suspension only worsen his headache.
Stanway drew heavy criticism for the challenge, with former England Women goalkeeper Rachel Brown saying on commentary: “There was no intent, but if you endanger a player, it’s a red. It’s as simple as that.
“She completely mistimes it and it’s an absolute red card. She is a really key player for Man City and she has made a poor decision.”
“There is no defending Georgia Stanway. It looks worse in replays and the foot is just so high,” added ex-England midfielder Fara Williams.
“She tries to pull out but she is already committed to the challenge.”