Manchester United overcame West Ham United 2-1 at the London Stadium yesterday despite some controversial decisions by the referee, Martin Atkinson.
United’s centre forward Cristiano Ronaldo had three penalty appeals waved away by Atkinson without recourse to the Video Assistant Referee.
After the match, United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was adamant that at least two of the incidents should have resulted in a spot kick.
‘I think there were two [penalties], the first and the last one,’ Solskjaer said.
‘I think they are stonewall, you can’t even argue against them.
‘Hopefully it won’t be Cristiano is never going to get a penalty.
‘I think the first and the third are definite penalties, 100 per cent nailed on.
‘The first one, the lad sticks out his foot, Cristiano runs where there was a space a split second earlier and he runs on to the thigh of him. That’s a penalty. The third one is for me, as well. [Kurt] Zouma didn’t touch the ball and Cristiano is fouled.’
Even the infamous Arsenal supporter, TV personality Piers Morgan, agreed with Solskjaer, tweeting:
‘Ronaldo deserved at least 2 and probably all 3 penalties. Absurd refereeing. But he scored again, as he has in every game of his comeback. Incredible. So good to have him back in the Premier League.’
Ronaldo deserved at least 2 and probably all 3 penalties. Absurd refereeing. But he scored again, as he has in every game of his comeback. Incredible. So good to have him back in the Premier League. @Cristiano 👏👏 pic.twitter.com/0zD01BbP60
— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) September 19, 2021
The Times, however, drafted in former Premier League referee Peter Walton to support Atkinson’s decisions.
‘The lighter touch applied by referees when giving penalties will work against Cristiano Ronaldo this season,’ Walton said.
‘Last season I could have seen both being given. However, under the present directives neither met the threshold for penalties.
‘In the first incident, Ronaldo took the ball around Coufal and initiated contact with the defender by clipping his leg.
‘In the second, Ronaldo was already going to ground when Zouma made contact with him. It was right that neither incident was penalised.’
The United boss remained adamant, though, arguing that the decision-making was inconsistent regardless of rule interpretation:
‘The last one – Paul [Pogba] had a foul against Kurt Zouma.
‘He did not touch him but he went over him so why is Cristano’s third appeal not a penalty?’