Bruno Fernandes won a penalty despite looking like he committed the foul; VAR did not overturn the on-field call; Dean Smith called it a “disgraceful decision”
Manchester United won their 13th penalty of the season against Aston Villa – equalling the record for spot-kicks awarded in a single Premier League campaign – but should it have been overturned?
Bruno Fernandes swept home the penalty on 27 minutes after he was deemed to have been fouled by Ezri Konsa.
United drew level with the Crystal Palace team in 2004/05 and Leicester City’s title-winning side in 2015/16 as the only teams to be awarded 13 penalties in one season.
It means with four matches remaining for United in the 2019/20 season, they are just one shy of breaking the record.
But were they fortunate to join the 13-club? The awarding of the penalty was a controversial one with replays showing Fernandes actually made contact with Konza as the pair came together just inside the area. The United midfielder spun with the ball and ended up colliding into the Villa defender, catching Konsa on the ankle in the process.
The incident was reviewed by VAR but wasn’t deemed as a clear and obvious mistake.
Villa went onto lose the game 3-0 as their relegation fears continued. Boss Dean Smith blasted the VAR officials, calling the decision not to overturn the penalty call a “disgrace”.
“It all turned around on the penalty decision,” Smith said.
“I can understand Jon Moss getting it wrong but that goes to VAR, I don’t know what they are looking at. It’s a disgraceful decision. I can’t really tell you what I think about it as I’ll get fined. It’s a poor decision. They’ve got a screen they can go to and look at but they don’t seem to be bothered now.
“Anybody who has been in football knows Fernandes is trying to do a drag back. His first foot is on the ball and his second is on Konsa’s shin.
“I thought he was going to give a foul the other way.”
However, United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer disagreed.
He said: “I think it’s a penalty. If you try to tackle me, I try to jump over you and I land on you, I think that’s a foul. The boy [Konsa] sticks out his leg and Fernandes does a fantastic Zidane or Maradona pirouette and he lands on him.”
It caused a debate in the Sky Sports studio with pundits Roy Keane and Patrice Evra offering some sympathy with Villa over the decision not being overturned by VAR.
Evra said: “In my opinion, it’s not a penalty. The defender is being a little bit clumsy but it shouldn’t be a penalty.”
Keane added: “I don’t think it’s a penalty but I can see why the referee gave it. It’s harsh but sometimes you have to be punished for being clumsy – it was a clumsy challenge. It’s clever play from Fernandes.”