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By ESPN Staff

Tunnel bust-up was 'handbags', insists Ferdinand

Rio Ferdinand insists his Carling Cup semi-final stand-off with Robbie Savage was merely another instalment of footballing 'handbags'.

It was reportedly the intervention of `peace-maker' Wayne Rooney which made sure his United team-mate's fall-out with Blackburn midfielder Savage was kept in check.

The incident - which boiled over as the pair left the field at half-time and continued in the players' tunnel at half-time - nonetheless overshadowed United's victory in Wednesday's second leg at Old Trafford.

Ferdinand insists, however, that there was never any fear of the spat getting out of hand.

'It was handbags,' he told The Sun. 'We had a little debate. It was the sort of thing that goes on all the time.

'It was nothing to get excited about, and I am sure Robbie would agree.'

The FA are waiting for the report of referee Graham Poll before deciding whether to launch any action, but United defender Wes Brown believes the added bite was only what you would expect in a high-intensity semi-final.

'It wasn't a dirty game,' insisted the England defender.

'It was a semi-final. If it wasn't competitive you would be disappointed. Both teams were up for it, and there were a few tackles going in - but you expect that in any semi-final.'

Robbie Savage, who annoyed United with his play-acting in the first game at Ewood Park a fortnight ago, bore the brunt of United's physical approach.

The Welsh midfielder was flattened by Alan Smith, then shoved over by Ruud van Nistelrooy who clipped Savage on the head with his knee as he fell.

It was Savage's reaction to that incident which is thought to have provided the basis for Ferdinand's confrontation at the half-time whistle, sparking the melee in the tunnel.