Television cameras showed United's captain, Roy Keane, shouting and pointing at his Arsenal counterpart, Patrick Vieira. Keane later said he had acted because Vieira had been "having at go" at Gary Neville before the game. Without providing details, Neville backed up Keane's version by saying: "Roy Keane's not a liar."
Keane started shouting at Vieira after the Frenchman had had words with Neville. "See you out there, not down here," Keane said, apparently warning Vieira to keep hostilities to the pitch. Graham Poll, the referee, then prevented Keane from approaching Vieira, while Pascal Cygan blocked Vieira's path to Keane. The pre-match griping ended there, and the FA said yesterday there was no reason for it to act.
"We've received a report from Graham Poll in relation to an incident in the tunnel prior to the match," an FA statement said. "He is satisfied he dealt with the incident at the time. Therefore, no further action is required."
Keane had explained: "Patrick Vieira is 6ft 4in and having a go at Gary Neville. So I said, `Have a go at me'. If he wants to intimidate our players and thinks Gary Neville is an easy target, I'm not having it."
Neville declined to elaborate on what Vieira had said, but added: "There were a couple of things that did happen before the game that disappoint you, especially from players of that calibre. But it's a tough game."
Vieira denied trying to intimidate Neville, saying: "I didn't threaten anybody. They are big enough players to handle themselves. I had a talk with Roy Keane and that's it. Gary Neville is a big lad, he can handle himself."
Neville conceded that the match itself was ill-tempered and that responsibility lay with both sides. Poll issued six yellow cards - four of them to United - and also dismissed United's Mikael Silvestre for head-butting Freddie Ljungberg 21 minutes from the end.
"There were a couple of our players who might be disappointed with themselves and there will be a couple of theirs who will be disappointed with themselves," Neville said. "It seemed in the first half that everybody was trying to get the better of everybody else and it wasn't played in a fair manner."
Ljungberg, who was left bleeding by Silvestre's butt, said: "This kind of thing does not belong on a football pitch. I got angry but tried to keep calm. We were told before the game we had to keep calm."
Silvestre was also rebuked by his manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, who said: "There is no doubt he deserved to be sent off."
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