Have Manchester United been given favourable penalty treatment?

Manchester United have now been awarded a record-equalling 13 Premier League penalties this season after Bruno Fernandes’ contentious spot-kick at Villa… so have Solskjaer’s men been getting favourable treatment by referees and VAR?

  • Bruno Fernandes won a penalty that shouldn’t have been given against Villa
  • It was the 13th penalty awarded to United in Premier League this season
  • That equals the record of 13 awarded to Leicester in their 2015-16 title campaign
  • 13 of 83 Premier League penalties this season have been awarded to United
  • Most have been the correct decision by the officials but some are controversial 

Manchester United have equalled the record for the most penalties awarded in a Premier League season.

Bruno Fernandes won their 13th spot-kick of the league campaign in Thursday night’s 3-0 win at Aston Villa, a decision that sparked plenty of controversy.

Indeed, the Premier League later admitted that the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) should have overturned referee Jon Moss’s decision to point to the spot after Fernandes tangled with Villa defender Ezri Konsa.

Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes (right) won a contentious penalty after tangling with Aston Villa defender Ezri Konsa (left) during Wednesday night’s 3-0 win at Villa Park 

The penalty award, which the Premier League later admitted was a mistake despite being checked by VAR, was United’s 13th spot-kick of the 2019-20 league season 

Fernandes made no mistake after VAR confirmed the penalty award by referee Jon Moss 

United have now equalled the Premier League record for penalties won during one season

The penalty award meant Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s team have been given 13 penalties in the Premier League alone this season, equalling the number awarded to Leicester City’s title-winning side of 2015-16.

But United’s tally – being awarded 13 of 83 penalties for the entire division – equates to 15.7 per cent.

It had rival fans howling about a penalty conspiracy in favour of United but have the decisions been correct? Sportsmail takes a look at all 13 of their Premier League penalties this season and give our verdict.

August 11 vs Chelsea (Old Trafford) – taken by Marcus Rashford, scored

United’s first penalty of the season came on the opening day when Marcus Rashford was fouled just inside the box by a clumsy challenge by Chelsea defender Kurt Zouma.

Rashford had attempted to cut inside Zouma, who was off balance and falling backwards when he made contact with Rashford’s left ankle.

Referee Anthony Taylor pointed immediately to the spot and the verdict was upheld by VAR. Rashford fired home following a stuttering run-up. 

Verdict: Penalty – correct decision

Marcus Rashford was fouled by a clumsy Kurt Zouma challenge during the opening game

Referee Anthony Taylor had no hesitation in giving the penalty after clear contact was made

August 19 vs Wolves (Molineux) – Paul Pogba, saved

With the scores tied at 1-1, Paul Pogba plays a one-two with Rashford just inside the Wolves box before attempting to drive past Conor Coady.

Replays showed that Coady clearly clipped the toe-end of Pogba’s left boot as the Frenchman tried to cut inside him into a shooting position before going down.

There were no complaints from any Wolves players as Moss awarded the spot-kick but Pogba couldn’t make it count, seeing his kick saved by Rui Patricio.

Verdict: Penalty – correct decision

Conor Coady clipped the boot of Paul Pogba to concede a penalty during their August clash

But Wolves keeper Rui Patricio was equal to Pogba’s subsequent kick, saving it impressively

August 24 vs Crystal Palace (Old Trafford) – Marcus Rashford, hit the post

With United trailing at home after Jordan Ayew’s first-half goal, they are thrown a lifeline 20 minutes from time when Scott McTominay was brought down by Luka Milivojevic as he burst into the Palace box.

It was the briefest of contacts on the left boot of McTominay but enough to throw the United midfielder off balance at the speed he was running.

There were few complaints when Paul Tierney pointed to the spot having turned down appeals 15 minutes earlier when Anthony Martial went down trying to turn Martin Kelly.

In any case, Martial was clearly being obstructed by Gary Cahill next to where McTominay was fouled. But again United spurned the opportunity, with Rashford striking the inside of the post and they went on to win 2-1.

Verdict: Less clear cut than some penalty awards but contact was made.

Scott McTominay was clipped by Palace captain Luka Milivojevic for a penalty in August

Marcus Rashford reacts after seeing his penalty come off the inside of the post and back out

September 14 vs Leicester City (Old Trafford) – Marcus Rashford, scored

An eighth-minute penalty award at Old Trafford as Rashford gets to the ball a fraction ahead of Leicester defender Caglar Soyuncu but is heading away from goal.

Replays didn’t appear to show much contract with Rashford’s boot but referee Martin Atkinson pointed to the spot.

Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers said afterwards: ‘It was a harsh decision, but I think it was a penalty. Rashford is cute and bright and he is waiting for the contact and he gets the penalty.’

Rashford sent Kasper Schmeichel the wrong way to score what proved to be the match-winner.

Verdict: A contentious one that could have gone either way

Rashford goes down under challenge from Caglar Soyuncu but the contact was minimal

Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers described it as a ‘harsh decision’ which sums it up

October 27 vs Norwich City (Carrow Road) – Marcus Rashford, saved

The first of two penalty awards for United in a remarkable match. United are 1-0 ahead when Daniel James chased a long ball into the Norwich box and collided with Ben Godfrey.

The referee Stuart Attwell waved away appeals but VAR David Coote decided to investigate and after six replay viewings decided that Godfrey had committed an infringement.

However, James was guilty of at least as much, if not more, of the barging as the players came together shoulder-to-shoulder and even Solskjaer admitted afterwards it wasn’t a penalty.

There was a sense that justice was served when Tim Krul guessed correctly to save Rashford’s weak kick.

Verdict: Not a penalty

Ben Godfrey and Daniel James are left in a heap after chasing a ball into the Norwich box

The referee’s original decision not to award the penalty was overturned by VAR officials

October 27 vs Norwich City (Carrow Road) – Anthony Martial, saved

Later in the half, United were awarded a second penalty thanks to VAR. Fred’s half-volley from the edge of the box was blocked by Todd Cantwell inside the area.

The Norwich man turned away from the ball as he tried to block it and Fred’s shot touched his extended arm. Attwell hadn’t seen it but United’s players appealed vociferously and Coote made the penalty call.

This is one of a number of examples seen this season of any contact with the hand or arm being punished. 

This penalty probably wouldn’t have been awarded a few years ago, especially if not seen by the on-pitch officials, but VAR means you simply cannot extend arms or hands beyond the normal body silhouette.

Verdict: A penalty by the letter of the handball law

Todd Cantwell (left) was penalised by VAR for this handball as Fred’s shot struck him 

The penalty was another award by VAR in the same game but was a penalty by the game’s laws

December 4 vs Tottenham Hotspur (Old Trafford) – Marcus Rashford, scored

The scores were locked at 1-1 a few minutes into the second-half when Rashford’s run down the left into the Spurs box was ended by a clumsy-looking challenge by Moussa Sissoko.

Referee Paul Tierney pointed to the spot but it required a quite lengthy VAR check to confirm the decision.

There’s no question Rashford has Sissoko beaten for pace as he breaks into the box, with the Spurs man trying to hold him back under the arm. There then appears to be contact with Rashford’s right boot, right on the toe, as Sissoko makes an attempt for the ball.

The contact is minimal but Sissoko was second best in the contest and it was a penalty.

Verdict: Just enough contact to be a penalty.

Moussa Sissoko catches Rashford on the toe-end of his right boot for a penalty

It was a clumsy challenge by the Spurs man, who was beaten for pace by Rashford

December 7 vs Manchester City (Etihad Stadium) – Marcus Rashford, scored

The derby was still goalless when Rashford ran along the edge of the City penalty area and then cut sharply inside it. Surrounded by three City defenders, there appears to be nowhere for him to go.

Sandwiched between Bernardo Silva and John Stones, Rashford goes to ground. Referee Anthony Taylor waves away United appeals but VAR Michael Oliver watches the replays and finds Bernardo has barged into Rashford with hip-to-hip contact, throwing him off balance.

On the Sky commentary, Gary Neville calls it a ‘stonewall penalty’ and he’s correct as the contact is clear. The challenge is also unnecessary with Rashford heading down a cul-de-sac.

Verdict: Correct decision by the VAR to award penalty.

Rashford was brought down by City’s Bernardo Silva (right) for a penalty awarded by VAR

Bernardo’s tackle, making contact hip-to-hip, wasn’t necessary with Rashford going nowhere

January 11 vs Norwich City (Old Trafford) – Marcus Rashford, scored

United were a goal up in the return fixture with Norwich when Brandon Williams sprints onto a through pass by Rashford and reaches the ball inside the box.

In reality, Williams is heading away from goal and Norwich have covering defenders, but keeper Tim Krul has made the decision to come out and he recklessly brings Williams down, reaching out with his arm and sliding through with his whole body.

There wasn’t a great deal of contact but Krul has no reason to make the challenge he did and Anthony Taylor pointed to the spot.

Verdict: Reckless action by the keeper and a penalty

Tim Krul brings down Brandon Williams with a reckless challenge to concede a penalty 

February 23 vs Watford (Old Trafford) – Bruno Fernandes, scored

Fernandes’ first goal for United came after he won a penalty against Watford at Old Trafford.

Slipped through by Daniel James, he reached the ball a fraction before Watford keeper Ben Foster and he was then cleaned out. Martin Atkinson pointed to the penalty spot right away.

Replays showed that Foster, on the ground, made fleeting contact with Fernandes’ boots with his elbow having been beaten to the ball.

Verdict: Penalty – correct decision

Fernandes is brought down by Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster for a penalty in February

Foster protested but could have little cause for complaint after his ill-advised challenge

June 19 vs Tottenham Hotspur (Tottenham Hotspur Stadium) – Bruno Fernandes, scored

United are trailing Tottenham in their first match post-restart. Pogba gets the better of Eric Dier with some nifty footwork close to the byline and drives into the Spurs box.

Outmuscled, Dier comes back at Pogba and barges the Frenchman to the floor before instantly holding his hands up. By that time, Pogba had tumbled to the turf and Moss pointed to the spot.

Spurs manager Jose Mourinho described it as a ‘strange’ penalty award and it certainly did look a little soft but Pogba earned it having teased Dier and beaten him for skill.

A few minutes later, when Fernandes went down in the box with Dier nearby, another penalty award was overturned by VAR and correctly so as contact was minimal.  

Verdict: Contentious one but just about the correct call.

Pogba beats Eric Dier for skills near the byline and the Spurs man comes back at him

Pogba went down quickly having tricked Dier into making the contact and a penalty was given

July 4 vs Bournemouth (Old Trafford) – Marcus Rashford, scored

Another penalty awarded for handball as Martial’s nod-down across the Bournemouth box caught the trailing hand of Adam Smith.

Mike Dean spotted the infringement, pointing to the spot, and VAR confirmed the correct decision had been made. 

Any kind of contact with the hand inside the box is liable to be punished and this was clear.

Verdict: Penalty – correct decision

United were awarded a penalty against Bournemouth after Adam Smith handled in the box

Anthony Martial’s nod-down brushed the trailing hand of Adam Smith for a clear penalty

July 9 vs Aston Villa (Villa Park) – Bruno Fernandes, scored

The latest penalty award and certainly one of the most contentious. 

With the scores goalless at Villa Park, Fernandes tried to spin past defender Konsa just inside the box.

It appeared that Fernandes stood on Konsa’s foot as he did so but referee Moss judged Konsa to be the aggressor and VAR didn’t see fit to change the decision.

The Premier League later admitted that it shouldn’t have been a penalty and Solskjaer did likewise.

Verdict: Not a penalty

And don’t forget about these! 

As well as the 13 penalties awarded to United in the Premier League, they have also won five spot-kicks in other competitions.

Three have come in the Europa League, against Partizan Belgrade (away) and AZ Alkmaar (home) in the group stage, converted by Martial and Juan Mata respectively, and then another scored by Fernandes in the 5-0 last-32 win over Club Brugge.

In the FA Cup, Mason Greenwood scored one in the 6-0 fourth round win at Tranmere Rovers.

And in the Carabao Cup, Greenwood netted from 12 yards in the 2-1 success at Chelsea.

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