Real Madrid could face punishment after Sergio Ramos and Xabi Alonso appeared to deliberately seek yellow cards against Galatasaray in the quarter-final first leg in order to miss the second leg and arrive clear of cards for the semi-final.
According to Uefa regulations, any player who deliberately seeks a booking can be handed a two-game ban and Madrid have been punished before for a similar, if more extreme, episode. On that occasion, against Ajax in 2010, the players involved were also Alonso and Ramos.
On Wednesday night the pair were booked late in the game, with Madrid leading 3-0. Alonso got a yellow card for dissent and Ramos for kicking the ball away. When the bookings were mentioned to their team-mate Karim Benzema, he said that "everything had gone well". But the coach, José Mourinho described them as a setback for his team.
"They are important absences for the next games," he said. "Ramos and Alonso can now play on Saturday [in the league], when they weren't going to but it complicates my plans for the second leg. When I saw the cards, what I had been thinking about doing [in the second leg] was ruined."
Levante's Sergio Ballesteros was handed a two-game ban in the Europa League for deliberately seeking a yellow card this season. In November 2010 Madrid were punished after Ramos and Alonso got red cards against Ajax in Amsterdam. Mourinho was handed a suspended two-game ban and was fined €40,000, while Alonso and Ramos were fined €20,000 each. Iker Casillas was fined €10,000 and Jerzy Dudek €5,000.
The difference then was that the cards they sought were red, not yellow, and there was an elaborate pantomime surrounding them. Dudek, instructed by Mourinho, left the bench to pass a message to Casillas who then communicated the orders to the two players. Proving that the cards had been deliberately sought was simple. Not so this time.