Melbourne Heart coach John van 't Schip has slammed Melbourne Victory captain Kevin Muscat's X-rated challenge on midfielder Adrian Zahra, which looks set to sideline the Heart youngster for up to 12 months.
Muscat was sent off in the 2-2 A-League draw at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night for a crude, late, high tackle which resulted in 20-year-old Zahra being carried from the field.
Early indications were Zahra had seriously injured his knee.
Scans on Sunday should reveal the full extent of the injury to the youngster, who signed his first professional contract less than a month ago.
Van 't Schip was downcast post-match despite his side's brave effort to fight back from two goals down, obviously upset with Zahra's plight and 37-year-old Muscat's challenge.
The combative Muscat had only just returned from suspension for being sent off in his previous match.
"The tackle was terrible. It doesn't fit on a football field a tackle like that," he said.
"Hopefully it's not going to end a great career of a young player.
"It's really heartbreaking to see a young player having tears and a lot of pain. Then you forget very fast about the game and the things we have achieved this evening."
Zahra was plucked from the Victorian Premier League in October on a short-term contract and shone, winning a regular starting place with his versatility, pace and outstanding work ethic and a two-year fulltime contract.
Referee Chris Beath brandished a straight red card for Muscat, with his penalty for the challenge to be decided by the A-League match review panel on Monday.
At very least Muscat will be ruled out of the Victory's next match against North Queensland Fury in Townsville on Wednesday.