Marouane Fellaini elbow: Emre Can plays down 'small fight' during Liverpool's win over Manchester United

The 22-year-old midfielder, who appeared to be struck in the neck by Fellaini's elbow, commended his opponent as a 'fair sportsman'

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The Independent Football

Emre Can has dismissed the incident between himself and Marouane Fellaini in the closing stages of Liverpool’s Europa League victory over Manchester United as only a ‘small fight’.

The 22-year-old midfielder appeared to be struck in the neck by Fellaini’s forearm with minutes remaining of the Reds’ 2-0 win at Anfield.

The incident was missed by referee Carlos Velasco Carballo but the Belgium international could yet be banned for next week's second leg.

Can, despite admitting that contact had been made, downplayed the severity of Fellaini’s ‘elbow’ and commended his opponent as a ‘fair sportsman’.

"It was just a small fight. It was okay. It was not a boxing ring punch," he said."Fellaini is a fair sportsman. He touched my throat with his elbow but it is okay."

Liverpool had few problems overcoming their rivals in the round of 16 first leg on Thursday night and may have been disappointed not to win by a greater margin.

Daniel Sturridge’s early penalty and a second-half strike from Roberto Firmino gave Jurgen Klopp’s men a comfortable if not commanding advantage ahead of next week’s return leg at Old Trafford.

David De Gea, whose saves denied the hosts on several occasions, kept United’s hopes of advancing to the quarter-finals of European football’s second-tier competition alive.

Can applauded the Spain goalkeeper's performance at Anfield but insisted that the 2-0 scoreline would provide his side with a sufficient platform to progress.

"De Gea is a very good goalkeeper but we created chances, played well and scored two goals," he said. "It was incredible, a very good score for the second leg and we have to keep going like that.

"The team played very well and the second half was sometimes not what we wanted to do as we didn't press too well, but we have to play like in the first half again.

"We know we have to keep going, nothing is done and we have to keep it up."

Additional reporting by PA