Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will rue not allowing Cristiano Ronaldo to take United’s last-gasp penalty after Bruno Fernandes’ miss in the 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa
United had fallen behind to an 88th-minute goal from Kortney Hause but an injury-time penalty handed them a golden chance to salvage a point.
However, Fernandes blazed his penalty wildly over the bar – surprising some, who had expected Ronaldo to take the late spot-kick.
It’s now twice in a week that United have fallen to a 1-0 defeat at Old Trafford after they were dumped out of the Carabao Cup by West Ham in midweek.
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Fernandes has been United’s main man on set-pieces ever since his £47m arrival from Sporting Lisbon back in January 2020.
But there had been some expectation that Ronaldo would take over those duties following his transfer from Juventus last month.
The Portuguese icon has notched four goals in his three since returning to Old Trafford.
And Solskjaer may be rueing the call to deny him the opportunity to add to that tally in the dramatic late finale against Villa.
Fernandes’ late miss from the spot came hot off the heels of Solskjaer’s comments accusing rival boss Jurgen Klopp of influencing referee’s decisions to not give penalties to United.
The Liverpool boss complained last season about the number of penalties United were awarded – something which irked Solskjaer.
“We just have to hope we get what we deserve,” said the United boss prior to the Villa game. “We should have had three penalties in the last two games.
“There was a certain manager who worried about us getting penalties last year and after that the decisions were difficult to give.
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“I’ve seen a big difference since then on. So leave it to the refs and make the right calls very soon.”
United’s loss against Dean Smith’s side hasn’t seen them concede ground at the top of the Premier League yet.
But league leaders Liverpool will have a chance to open up an early three-point lead on their rivals when they travel to Brentford on Saturday evening.
It’s a result that will ramp up the pressure on Solskjaer – despite their strong start to the league season.
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It was a performance which had glaring similarities with the disappointing displays against Southampton and Wolves last month, even if a late winner from Mason Greenwood at Molineux helped paper over some of the cracks.
There are lofty ambitions for the Norwegian boss to break his trophy duck this season after a mammoth summer of investment.
Solskjaer was also dealt a further blow as he lost England defenders Luke Shaw and Harry Maguire to injury issues.
Shaw was forced off in the first half after pulling up whilst Maguire appeared to hurt his back in a collision with Danny Ings to cap a miserable afternoon for the United boss.