Kovac forced off before he was sent off

WEST HAM boss Gianf-ranco Zola confirmed that he had to take midfielder Radoslav Kovac off before he was sent off at Aston Villa on Sunday, writes DAVE EVANS. The 30-year-old Czech Republic player, who retired from international football earlier this mont

WEST HAM boss Gianf-ranco Zola confirmed that he had to take midfielder Radoslav Kovac off before he was sent off at Aston Villa on Sunday, writes DAVE EVANS.

The 30-year-old Czech Republic player, who retired from international football earlier this month to concentrate on his West Ham duties, had already been booked in the first half when he brought down Aston Villa midfielder Stilian Petrov with a late tackle.

Referee Mike Jones decided to give the player one more chance, but as Zola relates, he made it clear that he was on a final warning.

"The referee told Matthew Upson that Kovac would probably be sent off with his next tackle," revealed Zola.


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"I took no chances, but I have to congratulate Stilian Petrov for getting straight up - he is a fair person and a fair player."

Kovac, who was sent off for two laughable yellow cards at Sunderland earlier in the season, seemed to get the rough end of the stick again after 17 minutes when he was penalised for a foul on Emile Heskey.

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A foul it probably was, but a yellow card? Never.

Zola seemed to echo some of that point at least. "To be honest, Kovac's first booking was a little bit harsh because it wasn't even a foul and it wasn't a booking at all.

"Maybe that levelled things up.

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