Penalty award against Manchester United strongly criticised

Manchester United were beaten by Real Sociedad after a second half penalty scored by Brais Mendez.

The penalty was awarded for a handball by Lisandro Martinez, and while it did strike his arm as he went in for a block, it quite clearly hit his knee first.

The referee awarded the penalty, and despite being given a VAR get out, he did not take it, and did not review the monitor to check the incident.

This was the latest in the line of VAR mistakes this football season, even though the technology did correctly rule in United’s favour to disallow a goal against Arsenal this past weekend.

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Penalty award against Manchester United

There has been a strong reaction against the spot kick in the press, with the decision highly criticised.

The Times wrote: “After all the talk of how Uefa implemented VAR better than PGMOL officials it was dispiriting and logic-defying to see the Italian referee, Marco Di Bello, point to the spot, and for the VAR, Massimiliano Irrati, to concur.”

Former referee Peter Walton told The Times: “The law was amended last year so the referee could judge the handball to be deliberate if that happened. That is what the referee and VAR must have decided happened last night but I totally disagree with them. Lisandro Martínez did not deliberately handball it and it was not a penalty.”

The Telegraph reported: “Referee Marco Di Bello pointed to the spot. United must have believed the video assistant referee would come to their rescue but, perversely, Massimiliano Irrati upheld Di Bello’s decision. It seems the Premier League is not the only competition having issues with Var this season.”

The Guardian described the penalty as ‘questionable’, while The Mail reported the spot-kick ‘seemed harsh’.

Manchester United pay the price

United paid the price for failing to take advantage of a largely dominant first half against Real Sociedad, in which most of the game was played in the Spanish side’s half.

Real Sociedad came back into the game in the second half and began to put United under pressure. The penalty was a classic sucker-punch.

Unjust as it was, the goal gave Real Sociedad something to cling onto, and United’s task of breaking them down became twice as difficult.

For all the possession United enjoyed in the second half, this did not really translate into threatening chances. United ended with 15 shots at goal, with only three on target.

The penalty was a blow, but even a 0-0 result was not what United came for. The bigger problem lies with the attack failing to get in sync and break the La Liga side down.

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