Conor Hourihane has been slammed as “disgusting” for appearing to punch Mateusz Klich in the stomach for his controversial goal in Leeds United’s explosive clash against Aston Villa, according to Noel Whelan.

The former Leeds striker was at Elland Road on Sunday to witness the extraordinary events that followed Klich’s contested goal, with Marcelo Bielsa ordering his player to walk through an immediate equaliser in the 1-1 draw.

Hourihane was booked at the end of the match but the FA could cite him after video footage showed him aiming a punch at the Leeds midfielder’s stomach while players squared up to each other.

Referee Stuart Attwell had his back to the incident as the Villa midfielder confronted Klich outside Villa’s penalty box.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, Whelan explained why he was appalled at the conduct of Republic of Ireland international Hourihane.

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“It was disgusting,” he said. “Hourihane was very lucky not to get sent off. He clearly punched Klich in the chest, and that is a clear red card if it is seen.

“What did Klich do wrong? He was simply playing to the whistle. You are taught from a young age to play to the whistle, and you don’t have to put the ball out unless there is a head injury, or a really serious injury. That wasn’t the case with the Jonathan Kodjia injury.

“I can see why Aston Villa were disappointed, as they kicked the ball out when Adam Forshaw was injured earlier in the game. But players are told before the start of the season the game will only be stopped if there’s a head injury.

“There was no reason for the players to stop and maybe Dean Smith should be complaining about why his players didn’t play to the whistle.”

Hourihane has been a key man in Villa’s promotion-chasing campaign, starting 32 Championship matches among 44 appearances this season.

In other Aston Villa news, the club’s coaching staff have told one of their defenders to find a new club.