Roberto Firmino insisted it is “normal” for opposition players to hug in the tunnel after infuriating Roy Keane with his overly-friendly antics.
Footage from the tunnel at Old Trafford on Sunday showed Liverpool pair Firmino and Fabinho sharing a laugh and embrace with fellow Brazilians and Manchester United duo Fred and Andreas Pereira.
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The exchange angered ex-Manchester United man Keane, who was renowned for his fiery character and personal battles.
The Irishman said: “I’m disgusted with the players. You’re going to war, they’re hugging and kissing.
“Don’t even look at the opposition. You’re going into battle against them.
“The game hasn’t changed. But the players have. You’re going to war against these players and they’re hugging each other!
“Forget it, chat to them after the game. Well don’t even chat to them after the game.”
“There was talk about Patrick [joining Manchester United], but I don’t think he would have got into the United team.
“He would’ve had to have been a squad player and I don’t think he would’ve been satisfied with that.”
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Keane’s most famous rivalry was with Arsenal midfielder Patrick Vieira.
They regularly went at each other on the pitch – and even off it before kick-off in 2005, with the pair involved in a furious bust-up in the tunnel at Highbury.
But Firmino was keen to clear the air after the exchange with his international teammates before the 1-1 draw which ended Liverpool’s 17-match winning run.
The Reds forward told ESPN Brasil: “I don’t want to create controversy with anyone.
“I find it quite normal before the game to greet each other, ask how they are doing.
“That’s all. Nothing more than that.
“But on the pitch, they aren’t friends, each one defends his club to the best of his ability.
“Then the rivalry increases on the pitch.”
This story originally appeared in The Sun and was reproduced with permission.