The only thing worse than what Taras Stepanenko actually did was the fact that he tried to apologize and protest — if only for a moment.
Stepanenko was sent off near the end of Ukraine’s 2-1 win over Moldova in a FIFA World Cup qualifier on Tuesday after he landed a flying, studs-up kick to the face of Moldova’s Vitalie Bordian. The offense would have warranted a red card in any league anywhere.
The Ukrainian midfielder pushed forward into Moldova’s penalty area when a teammate headed a ball in his direction. Instead of running and trying to jump to head the ball, Stepanenko took a foot-first lunge, which had an all-too-predictable result.
As Bordian lay writhing on the ground, Stepanenko tried to plead innocence and even change the referee’s mind. But the referee was too busy protecting the offending Ukrainian from Bordian’s irate teammates. When the dust settled, the official did what he was always going to do.
Watch Stepanenko’s flying kick in the video below.