Lampard speaks after Everton secure survival
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Piers Morgan has given his opinion on Arsenal legend Patrick Vieira’s skirmish with a pitch invader at Goodison Park on Thursday night. Everton fans were jubilant as they secured Premier League safety with an emotional 3-2 comeback win over Crystal Palace.
Having fought back from a two-goal deficit at half time, the result means the Toffees will be playing Premier League football again next season to their great relief. For Palace, it is no more than a blip in their quest to finish at the top of a bunched up group of mid-table sides.
But Vieira was still disappointed at the nature of the loss, and as he walked across the pitch to get to the away dressing room, an Everton pitch invader appeared to goad him into a reaction. The former Gunners midfield general grabbed the fan and kicked out, sparking outrage from some Toffees fans before being led away by others.
On the incident, Morgan said on social media: “Three thoughts about this: 1) The little scumbag obviously said something highly abusive to Vieira and got exactly what he deserved. 2) Where the hell were the police/security?? 3) You’d want Vieira with you in a fight.”
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Vieira, now 45-years-old, was a tough-tackling midfielder in his day and, at 6ft 4in, he would never shy away from a physical Premier League battle. In fact, he is still famed for numerous run-ins with Manchester United hard-man Roy Keane.
The issue of whether Vieira should have reacted or kept a lid on things will continue to divide opinion. The immediate reaction of the fans that saw Vieira lash out suggests that it could have escalated much further as emotions ran high.
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Ex-Premier League striker Dion Dublin joined Morgan in siding with the former French international, telling Sky Sports: “People would say don’t react, but I disagree. If someone is in your face, what do you do? Having fans on the pitch is not the way forward, we have to stop letting fans on the pitch. You can’t have players in fear of their lives if players are on the pitch. For any players or member of staff on the pitch, it’s a scary place to be.”
Earlier on Thursday, a Nottingham Forest fan was jailed for six months after running onto the pitch and headbutting Sheffield United’s Billy Sharp following the Blades’ Championship play-off semi-final defeat, raising further questions about fan conduct.
Even Toffees boss Frank Lampard expressed sympathy for Vieira after the final whistle, while defending those who swarmed the pitch after Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s winner and at the final whistle. “I feel for Patrick because I didn’t get him at the end because of how it all erupted for us,” he said.
“I would have said: ‘Come in with us’ (into the Everton dressing-room area rather than the Crystal Palace area on the other side of the pitch). I know how managers feel and I get that. And, of course, he’s running across the pitch of 80 yards of our fans coming on. It’s not easy.
“There’s nothing from me. Not any issues. It was pure elation of fans who want to stay in the Premier League that come on the pitch.”
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