By Alex Stevens
Tony Cascarino has branded Manchester United defender Marcos Rojo a “coward” for his dangerous tackling style.
The Argentine centre-back escaped with a yellow card from referee Craig Pawson for a two-footed lunge on Wilfried Zaha during United’s 2-1 win against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Wednesday.
Rojo also avoided a red card for a similar wild challenge on Everton anchorman Idrissa Gueye in his team’s 1-1 draw at Goodison Park just 10 days previously.
Palace manager condemned Rojo for the nature of his tackle on Zaha, while BBC pundit Alan Shearer claimed the versatile defender should have been sent off for the challenge on the ex-United forward.
Pundit and former striker Cascarino went even further in his assessment of Rojo, who has emerged as a key member of United’s team during their recent improvement.
“Normally if a player gets away with a bad challenge during a high-profile, televised game, referees are primed to send him off should it happen again,” wrote Cascarino in the Times.
“So it’s amazing that after his two-footed lunge on Gueye, Rojo got lucky with another poor challenge. He should have been sent off for diving in on Wilfried Zaha.
“It’s remarkable that players are still making those sort of challenges. It is a coward’s tackle — you are most likely to hurt an opponent and probably won’t get hurt yourself.”
Rojo has played 17 matches for United this season, 14 of which he has started, and has established an increasingly solid partnership at the back with Phil Jones.
Manager Jose Mourinho kept Jones and Rojo together against Palace despite the return of Eric Bailly, who slotted in at right-back on Wednesday night before his 52nd minute withdrawal.
Wednesday’s result leaves United sixth in the Premier League table, six points behind fourth-placed rivals Manchester City and 13 adrift of leaders Chelsea, who secured a 10th consecutive league win.
United have recorded back-to-back Premier League wins for the first time since August as Zlatan Ibrahimovic struck late to add to Paul Pogba’s first-half goal and deprive struggling Palace of a point.
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