sport

Portugal defend Meireles

Portugal have denied midfielder Raul Meireles made an insulting gesture toward the referee after team mate Pepe was sent off against Germany on Monday.

The Portuguese insist the former Chelsea man was simply passing on tactical instructions from coach Paulo Bento.

Photographs posted on Twitter showed Meireles gesturing with his fingers behind Serbian referee Milorad Mazic's back during the first half of Germany's 4-0 Group G win.

"The Portuguese football federation (FPF) reiterates that there was no gesture directed to the match referee and regrets the speculation which would seriously damage the interests of the player and the national team," they said a statement.

"The FPF clarifies that the gesture, which has been misinterpreted, was directed at team mate Bruno Alves and merely indicated instructions from coach Paulo Bento.

"Raul Meireles was just explaining that he would drop back to the position of central defender, playing on the right of the defence."

The incident occurred after Portugal defender Pepe was shown the red card in the first half of Monday's game.

Pepe leaned into Germany striker Thomas Muller with his head, making contact and applying pressure in a needless altercation that could bring him a stiff punishment later this week.

FIFA have meanwhile confirmed that Honduras midfielder Wilson Palacios and Uruguay's Maxi Pereira will only serve one-match bans following their red cards in their team's respective openers.

Palacios, sent off collecting a second yellow card for an ugly barge on France's Paul Pogba on Sunday, will miss his country's next match against Ecuador.

Pereira, dismissed for a stamp in Uruguay's shock 3-1 defeat to Costa Rica on Saturday, is now suspended for the crunch duel with England on Thursday.

A one-match suspension is automatically enforced for a dismissal, but FIFA's disciplinary panel has the option of increasing the ban for serious offences.