Athletic: David Navarro's theatrics Oscar-worthy
MADRID (AP) -David Navarro produced a performance fitting for Oscar night.
The Valencia defender elbowed Fernando Llorente in the back of the head while jumping for a ball that flew high over the pair, and then fell to ground clutching his own noggin in apparent agony.
While Llorente was eventually led to the sidelines for treatment and quickly returned to action, Navarro remained motionless before being removed on a stretcher. Seconds later, the Valencia captain was back on the field to help his team rally from a 1-0 deficit to beat Athletic Bilbao 2-1 Sunday in the Spanish league.
"He deserves an Oscar for what he did,'' Bilbao defender Mikel San Jose said Monday, referring to the American movie awards ceremony that took place Sunday night in Los Angeles. "David Navarro's attitude is really disgusting. Football is a contact sport and you can give your opponent a blow with an elbow but if that happens you have to own up to it and not throw yourself on the ground. That's the worst thing about it.''
Replays showed that Navarro's head did not make contact with anyone or anything during the play.
Navarro has previously served a six-month ban from all national and international matches for his part in a melee during a Champions League game in 2007. Navarro came off the bench and punched Inter Milan defender Nicolas Burdisso from behind, breaking the Argentine player's nose.
Llorente, who said Navarro was a dangerous player, called on Spanish officials to review the incident and impose a ban.
"No doubt tonight they'll give him the Oscar,'' Llorente said after the match. "What a referee. Knowing how this player is and then to allow these types of things is shameful. I'm outraged.
"I'm tired of this, that no one wants to stop these types of players. He was trying to intimidate me all game because that's the only way he knows how to play.''
TV commentators were equally critical during the broadcast.
"Navarro obviously received a tremendous shock of electricity all through his body after his elbow met (Llorente's) head,'' Canal Plus analyst Carlos Martinez said. "What David Navarro has done is very nasty.''
Navarro said he stayed down after feeling a twinge in his neck during the play.
"On the field there are a lot of hard challenges but everything stays there. I didn't mean to hurt Llorente,'' said Navarro, who clutched his forehead as he tumbled to the ground. "They saw more yellow cards than us. You should see how the legs of my teammates look.''