Ibrahimovic: I never meant to hurt Ruffier

The forward insists he tried to minimise the risk of injury as both players went for the ball in the incident in November, adding that he felt the red card was harsh
Paris Saint-Germain striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has stressed he did not intend to injure Saint Etienne goalkeeper Stephane Ruffier.

The Sweden star was sent off for kicking his opposite number in the chest during the match in November, but the 31-year-old has since insisted the clash was purely accidental, adding that, but for his efforts to pull out of the challenge, he could have ended the keeper's career.

He told RMC Sport: "The situation was a little confused because the referee asked us what had happened. He did not seem very sure of himself.

"I felt that he had not seen [the] action. Afterwards, he brandished a red card and I accepted his decision.

"Obviously, I never meant to hurt the opposing goalkeeper. I played the ball and I [saw] it happen at the last moment.

"Fortunately, my leg was not straight. If this were the case, he might never have played football again. Anyway, I bent my leg to absorb the shock, while also protecting me upon contact. This is football."