Antony: I was provoked by Coventry players – I cupped my ears to defend my club

Antony celebrates after Manchester United reached the FA Cup final on penalties against Coventry
Antony was heavily criticised for goading Coventry City's players after the FA Cup semi-final penalty shootout - Getty Images/Richard Heathcote

Manchester United’s under-fire winger Antony has defended his “heat of the moment” reaction at Wembley as Erik ten Hag claimed his £85 million signing was responding to “provocation” from Coventry players.

Antony invited fierce criticism for cupping his ears in celebration in the direction of the Coventry players after United’s penalty shoot-out victory over the Championship side in Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final.

The Brazil winger’s antics - which were branded “embarrassing” by former United defender Rio Ferdinand - contrasted starkly with the respectful behaviour of Harry Maguire, who went straight over to console the Coventry players, and other United team-mates who showed humility in the situation.

Neal Maupay, the Brentford striker who has a reputation for winding up opposition players, even tweeted in reaction to the Antony incident, saying: “Just for the record, not even I would do this”.

But Antony refused to apologise for his behaviour on social media on Tuesday.

Ten Hag claimed Antony should not have reacted in the way he did but was responding to provocation.

“Did you see the reaction of Harry Maguire?” Ten Hag asked. “He [Antony] was provoked. This was a reaction to that. You haven’t seen the provocation, you only saw the reaction. But he should not do it.

“But I have also seen Harry Maguire straight after and others. We should acknowledge the performance from Coventry to come into that final and come back. We are for 70 minutes totally dominating the game by far and creating many chances and 3-0 must have been the game closed. But the return from their side was very good.”

Broaden your horizons with award-winning British journalism. Try The Telegraph free for 3 months with unlimited access to our award-winning website, exclusive app, money-saving offers and more.