It was a moment of exquisite but ultimately useless skill.
Just outside the box with the scores tied at 0-0, Manchester United’s Antony produced a 720-degree pirouette with the ball stuck inside his left foot as a sheriff’s defender looked on Tiraspol.
After completing the rotation, he passed the ball to concede possession.
United eventually won their Europa League tie 3-0, but almost immediately Antony’s showboating provoked a furious reaction online and from pundits as his teammates defended him.
“Well, to me, that’s ridiculous. It is [Antony] does that then puts the ball out of bounds. It’s quite embarrassing actually. Doing that with no one near him then he knocks the ball out,” former Wales international Robbie Savage said in a commentary to BT Sport.
“If I was the manager I wouldn’t be happy. You try to win the game, move the ball quickly, no one near him and he knocks the ball out of bounds. Awkward. What was the point? If I was the manager and he did it again, I would drag him.
Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag replaced the winger at half-time, although he later clarified the decision was “more or less planned” to give Marcus Rashford and Cristiano Ronaldo a chance to play together.
“I have no problem with the stuff as long as it’s functional,” Ten Hag said after the game.
“When there’s something like that, it’s nice as long as it’s functional. If you don’t lose the ball, if you draw players, then it’s fine – but if it’s a trick because of a trick, then I’ll fix it.
But the furor continued on Friday, prompting Antony to issue a statement to defend himself.
“We are known for our art and I won’t stop doing what got me to where I am!” he wrote on his Instagram story.
Fellow Brazilian and national teammate Neymar also waded in, writing on his Instagram Story: “Keep it up, don’t change a thing! Forward, young. Audacity and joy.
Meanwhile, pundits such as Ian Holloway, a former professional footballer and manager, criticized his “disrespectful” turn.
“I don’t even know what he’s thinking,” Holloway told Sky Sports. “Useless nonsense, you know, practice off the field at the training ground, but when you go there you have to be realistic. He gave the ball away two seconds later, he kicked it straight away. sequel so come on. It’s disrespectful and it’s silly so grow up a little.
Antony’s Manchester United team-mate Diogo Dalot acknowledged the criticism, telling Sky Sports: “There will always be discussions after a mistake. He missed the pass but if the pass went through, Casemiro was in a good position to receive the ball and probably assist or score a goal.
“It’s part of his game, we’re happy to have it.”