Muller sorry for 'gongfu' kick in 3-3 Ajax draw

Bayern Munich's Thomas Muller saw red after missing the ball and landing a head-high kick on Ajax left-back Nicolas Tagliafico in their Champions League game.
Bayern Munich's Thomas Muller saw red after missing the ball and landing a head-high kick on Ajax left-back Nicolas Tagliafico in their Champions League game.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

AMSTERDAM • Thomas Muller has apologised for his gongfu-style kick to the head of Ajax defender Nicolas Tagliafico, which saw the Germany star being sent off in Wednesday's six-goal thriller.

"No, no - of course I didn't mean to do it," the 29-year-old told reporters over the first straight red card of his career in 462 appearances for Bayern Munich in the thrilling 3-3 draw as both teams progressed to the last 16 of the Champions League.

He said he went to the Dutch hosts' changing room to apologise to Tagliafico after the match, but the defender, who scored the home side's 95th-minute equaliser, had already left.

Instead, he wrote "@tagliafico3 - I am very sorry for that what happened yesterday! Was not intentionally (sic). Get well soon" on his Instagram account.

Muller was sent off 15 minutes from time after trying to control the ball with his outstretched boot, but he succeeded only in kicking the head of the Argentinian.

Both his teammates and coach admitted that the foul warranted a straight red card.

"Thomas didn't see him," said Bayern coach Niko Kovac, "but it was a clear red - he should have been aware of the opponent."

Bayern midfielder Leon Goretzka, who had witnessed Muller's head-high tackle on Tagliafico at close quarters, said: "I saw the scene as it happened. You only have to see how the lad looked afterwards - it wasn't good. As I saw it, it was a clear red card."

Goretzka himself was the victim of a dangerous lunge by Ajax's Maximilian Woeber, who was sent off.

It was a bitter end to the night for Muller, who made his 105th Champions League appearance, putting him level with former Bayern captain Philipp Lahm, who skippered Germany to the 2014 World Cup.

Muller will be banned for the first leg of Bayern's last-16 tie in the new year with the draw to be made in Nyon on Monday.

The Bavarians claimed the point they needed to finish as Group E winners, with an action-packed second half which saw five goals, two penalties and the pair of red cards as Ajax also went through to the knockout phase as runners-up.

Robert Lewandowski (two) and Kingsley Coman scored for Bayern, while Dusan Tadicć(two) and Tagliafico netted for the home side.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 14, 2018, with the headline 'Muller sorry for 'gongfu' kick in 3-3 Ajax draw'. Print Edition | Subscribe