Taylor given all clear over Ronaldo spat

FA to take no action over Newcastle player's challenge despite referee's admission

The Football Association said yesterday that it will take no further action against Newcastle United's Steven Taylor even though the referee Steve Bennett said he would have booked the Newcastle defender for his aggressive arm-up challenge on Cristiano Ronaldo had Bennett seen the incident clearly.

Bennett booked Taylor for his subsequent lunge at Michael Carrick and his admission that he would have shown Taylor a yellow card for the first challenge as well means that Taylor would have been sent off.

The Manchester United players were outraged by the nature of Taylor's neck-high arm on Ronaldo and captain Rio Ferdinand stood inches from Taylor's face on the pitch gesticulating and shouting at him. That was seconds before half-time.

The two men then continued their confrontation in the tunnel, with Ronaldo present and Wayne Rooney and Nemanja Vidic also involved. Separated by other players, the gist of Ferdinand's accusation was that Taylor was showboating to Newcastle fans in clattering Ronaldo. It was to Rooney that Taylor made his "ugly" remark.

The FA will not seek to investigate the matter further and the half-time incident, and Newcastle's high-energy performance, overshadowed the fact that Newcastle have now won just one of their last 10 league games.

Leapfrogged by Stoke City after their win against Bolton, that has left Newcastle one point and two places above the relegation zone. But the two sides below them, Portsmouth and Blackburn, have a game in hand. There can be no complacency on Tyneside, and there is not.

"The players are starting to worry about relegation," the centre-half Sébastien Bassong admitted. "It's going to be a hard end to the season, but we have to be brave and give it our maximum to stay in the Premier League. If we play like we did against Manchester United in our remaining games we will be safe, there is no reason why we wouldn't be if we play like that because we will get good results. However, if we don't deserve to stay up, if we don't play well, we will go down. That is simple."

Hull's win at Fulham eased them four points ahead of Newcastle and the two sides meet at the KC Stadium on Saturday week. Michael Owen, who is due to return from ankle injury that day, has already described the game as "shaping up to be our Cup final" and Newcastle need to win it.

But Hull have beaten Newcastle twice this season – both at St James', once in the FA Cup – and the Geordies will require the sort of display they gave against United, rather than the one at Bolton three days earlier. After Hull, Newcastle have Arsenal and Chelsea at home, then Stoke away. This could be Owen's time on Tyneside.

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