Silva hits out at referee Kavanagh for showing three red cards


MANCHESTER, England, March 19 (Reuters) - Fulham manager Marco Silva was left furious with referee Chris Kavanagh after he and two of his players were sent off in the space of 40 seconds during Sunday's 3-1 loss to Manchester United in their FA Cup quarter-final.

Silva plus two of his players -- Willian and Aleksander Mitrovic -- were shown red cards when a melee erupted midway through the second half at Old Trafford.

Fulham were leading 1-0 and looked poised to reach the FA Cup semi-finals for the first time since 2002 when Willian was shown a red card for handling the ball in the box after a VAR review.

The Cottagers then lost their cool.

While Silva said he received his marching orders for leaving the coach's area, he was also seen speaking angrily to the referee.

Asked if he could repeat what he said, the Portuguese manager snapped: "I don't remember. That he was a really nice guy, or the decision was fair or something like that."

Mitrovic was shown a red card for confronting Kavanagh and nudging him with his shoulder.

Silva felt his players really missed his presence during the latter stages of the match.

"I said to them that I should be there in the more difficult moment in the game, when we got that red card, in that moment. My position is to be in front of them," Silva said.

"It's a difficult moment for my players and I have to be there to protect them."

Asked if he had apologised to his players, Silva said "You can use this word.

"I don't remember all the words that I used with them. Needless to say it is a moment for me to be there on the touchline in front of them to protect them."

With a red card carrying an automatic suspension, Mitrovic's absence will be a big loss for Fulham as the Serb has scored 12 goals in 25 games this season in all competitions.

"I already spoke with Mitro . . . about controlling the emotion of the game," Silva said.

Fulham are ninth in the Premier League.

Reporting by Lori Ewing, editing by Pritha Sarkar

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