A spectator walked into the technical area during the Premier League match between Leeds and Newcastle on Saturday and shoved Newcastle manager Eddie Howe in the chest before being escorted away by security.
Howe didn’t appear to get hurt in the incident, which took place in the third minute of stoppage time in an emotionally charged 2-2 draw at Elland Road.
The spectator initially grabbed Howe by his left arm, then jabbed at him and pushed him high in the chest. Howe looked shocked and appeared to shout something at the intruder, who was quickly led away by security as other members of Newcastle’s security staff complained.
“That was a real surprise,” Howe said of the incident. “I’m concentrating on the game, then I turn and it’s the last thing you expect to happen.”
Two Callum Wilson penalties saw the Magpies recover Luke Ayling’s opener before Rasmus Kristensen’s deflected shot earned the hosts a point.
United are four points ahead of fifth-place Liverpool, who travel to Leicester City on Monday night. Brighton and Hove Albion visit St James’ Park on Thursday, which is Newcastle’s game in-hand.
A win against Brighton and Leicester on the following Sunday will guarantee a top-four finish – if Liverpool continue winning. United have only won twice on home turf this season against Liverpool and Arsenal.
Howe said: “Every time we play at home is an opportunity to win because of the conditions, the arena, the support, the confidence. We’ve done really well at home this season. We love to play there.
“We go into those two games with the belief we can get the job done but it’s never that easy, and that showed today. Leeds, with a new manager and style of play that is very difficult to play against, and a crowd that were in the game made it a really tough match for us.”
He added: “We have to be very positive. We’re disappointed not to win today. It was a great chance for us with the lead and not long left in the match but we have to accept what happened.
“It’s still in our hands, we have three huge games to come. Sometimes you have to take yourself back to the start of the season and what we would have thought to be in this position now.
“Everyone at the club would have taken that. It’s in our hands and we have to be very positive about what’s ahead.”