Paris Saint-Germain winger Angel Di Maria said he fully expected a hostile reception upon his return to former club Manchester United on Tuesday night amid accusations that he swore at the home fans during his celebrations.
Booed by United fans from the time he stepped off the bus until he left the pitch in the 81st minute, Di Maria inspired PSG to a 2-0 win in the first leg of the Champions League round of 16 tie at Old Trafford with two assists.
Di Maria kept his cool after a bottle of beer was thrown at him as he went to take a corner, while a water bottle was also thrown before PSG’s second goal. But he appeared to swear in English during the goal celebrations in a video captured by BT Sport.
“It was difficult from the opening minute but I knew this was going to happen,” Di Maria told Cadena Cope radio of the atmosphere. “But I’ve said it in the past and I reiterate it, I never spoke badly of the people here and of this club. These are things that happen and people took it badly. I only had problems with the coach [Louis van Gaal] here.”
Sources confirmed to ESPN FC that Manchester United will open an investigation into the fans who threw objects onto the pitch, while a separate investigation will look into damage reportedly caused by PSG fans to 800 seats and the netting in front of the away end, which was torn down
Sourced said that fans also damaged two trams while making their way to the stadium including punching a hole in the roof of one of the carriages. And United are braced for a UEFA fine after a number of flares were set off by PSG supporters shortly before kick off.
Di Maria cost a British record £59.7million when he joined United from Real Madrid in August 2014 but left within a year, having scored only four goals in 32 games as Van Gaal’s tactics prevented him from playing in his natural position as a winger. The Argentine was sold to PSG the following summer for €63m (£44m).
Despite his starring performance, Di Maria was fortunate not to get injured when Ashley Young pushed him off the pitch and into a metal barrier before half-time — a move that drew criticism from PSG coach Thomas Tuchel after the game.
“There was no need to push him [Di Maria] into the fence,” Tuchel told reporters. “I am happy there was no big injury. He [Di Maria] was a bit nervous and needed to be calmer in the first half. He had a hard time in the first half, the guy is very competitive. If you tease him, it does not make him weaker. I thought he had a good relationship with the fans. In the end he did well.”
After the game, Di Maria posted a photograph on Facebook celebrating one of the goals with his teammates and wrote: “Happy for a beautiful victory. There are still 90 minutes left. We need to continue to work for what’s coming. Congratulations team.”
Information from Manchester United correspondent Rob Dawson was used in this report.