What should have been a friendly between Porto and Roma turned into a brawl following Pepe’s tackle on Roma’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
The veteran Portugal defender has grown a reputation over his career for his off-the-ball battles, including headbutts, and a strong robust tackling style that has often rubbed up opponents in the wrong way.
Now it appears the 38-year-old Porto star’s approach isn’t just about gaining fine margins in professional competition either, after causing a mass brawl in a pre-season match with Roma.
The Italian side were chasing a fifth consecutive victory under new manager Jose Mourinho, who had previously managed Pepe while at Real Madrid between 2010 and 2013.
But the friendly sparked into chaos just after the hour mark when Pepe charged into Henrikh Mkhitaryan with a flailing arm to the face as the Roma midfielder collected a pass from Nicolo Zaniolo.
The former Arsenal and Manchester United instantly collapsed to the turf following the high intensity impact, but not before appearing to kick out at Pepe in retaliation.
Pepe’s team-mates close by quickly confronted the Armenian before Roma stars also raced in to spark a brawl.
Mkhitaryan had also tried to confront Pepe while both were on the ground and after being carried away by officials could be seen angrily shouting at his antagonist having been left in rage at the overzealous challenge.
Incredibly, Pepe escaped without a card for his role in the incident, while Mkhitaryan was booked for his reaction.
Gianluca Mancini had given Roma a 56th minute lead eight minutes before the brawl before former Wolves midfielder Vitinha netted an equaliser a minute from time at the Bela Vista stadium in Lagoa, Portugal.
Despite his winning streak coming to an end, Mourinho and his Roma side are looking in good shape under the former Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester United boss ahead of the start of the the Serie A season in just under a month’s time, with a pre-season game against Real Betis still to come.
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