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Pepe sparks pre-season brawl with Henrikh Mkhitaryan tackle as Jose Mourinho watches on

Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
 2021-07-29

It may have been pre-season, but Pepe sparked a brawl during Porto's friendly with Roma on Wednesday evening.

His tackle on former Manchester United midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan led to the two teams engaging in a heated scrap while Jose Mourinho, manager of the Serie A side, watched on.

The match, which finished 1-1, was played in Lagoa, Portugal and former Wolverhampton Wanderers loanee Vitnha came on to score an 89th-minute equaliser after Gianluca Mancini headed in the opener for the Giallorossi.

Mourinho took charge of Roma in June and has overseen two wins against lower-league Italian opposition in his other friendlies.

This was a different test, though, with Porto having reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League last season.

It was made even tougher by Pepe's typically wild challenge in the 'friendly' affair.

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Pepe crashed into Henrikh Mkhitaryan to spark a mass brawl in Porto's pre-season friendly with Roma

Halfway through the second half, Roma star Zaniolo played the ball to Mkhitaryan, who laid it off to a team-mate.

The Portuguese defender then fired into the Armenian as his left leg went for his opponent's right ankle.

Pepe's elbow also slammed into Mkhitaryan to spark the brawl as both benches lept into action when he arose to confront his offender - but not Mourinho.

Having managed the two at United and Real Madrid respectively, he stood back at witnesseed events unfold from the touchline and looked to ask what had sparked the unfolding fury.

Roma striker Edin Dzeko was heard telling Pepe: "Bravo, you’re 1-0 down, now go and cry."

The Portugal stalwart recently received praise during his club's European run last season and at Euro 2020 for his performances, despite turning 38 in February.

Mourinho recently said of the defender during Euro 2020: "He's a tremendous defender.

"He's one of these last defenders that loves to defend and that's what he does better than anyone in this moment in of European football."

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Jose Mourinho is looking to push Roma back in Champions League contention (Image: Getty Images)

Can the 'Special One' reignite his career Rome or are his days at the top long gone? Comment with your thoughts below.

Despite his fractus relationship with Mourinho at Old Trafford, the ex-Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund playmaker recently discussed his new boss in an interview with Sky Italia.

"Mourinho is very ambitious, he always wants to win.

"He doesn’t care if we play good or bad football, it’s all about the three points.

"Everyone knows he has won almost everything there is to win," Mkhitaryan added.

"I don’t want to talk about the past, we discussed it together and started from scratch on a different level.

"I know what he asks of his players and I am ready to give my all."

The 32-year-old could soon be reunited with an old team-mate from the Emirates, Granit Xhaka.

Although talks have been rumbling on since the end of the season, it's believed the Gunners are willing to sell the midfielder to the Giallorossi.

Do you want an exclusive pre-season preview of YOUR club - both in your inbox and through your letterbox? Head over here to find out more and secure your copy.

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