Premier League referees’ boss Jon Moss apologised to Gary O’Neil and told him Wolves had been denied a “blatant” stoppage-time penalty in their 1-0 Premier League defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford, according to the Wolves boss.
United’s debutant goalkeeper Andre Onana clattered into Sasa Kalajdzic deep into time added on, but Simon Hooper did not react and VAR Michael Salisbury deemed there was no foul, with an incredulous O’Neil instead booked for his reaction.
O’Neil said after the match he though Onana was trying to take Kalajdzic’s head off, and then revealed he had received an immediately apology from Moss.
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“Having just spoken to Jon Moss, fair enough he came straight out and said it was a blatant penalty and it should have been given,” O’Neil said.
“I sometimes feel bad. I’ve spent a lot of my day with him trying to understand the new guidelines and how to not get myself booked which I’ve failed in, but fair play to Jon in coming out.
“He said it was clear and obvious and he can’t believe the on-field referee didn’t give it and he can’t believe VAR didn’t intervene. It’s probably made me feel worse to be honest because once you know you’re right you feel worse about leaving with nothing.”
United boss Erik ten Hag tried to play down the incident, but he was largely alone in thinking the officials got the decision right.
“When VAR looked at it and decided not to give it of course we are pleased,” the Dutchman said. “It’s about the referee and the VAR. I think the two players come together and Andre didn’t interfere with the action from them because first was the touch on the ball and then came Andre.”
The controversial decision was not the only thing that left the impression United had been lucky to take three points from their opening Premier League match, with Raphael Varane’s 76th-minute header decisive in a laboured performance from the hosts.
With O’Neil only a few days into his tenure, Wolves impressed with their attacking intent. They registered 23 attempts at goal, the most for any visiting team at Old Trafford since Chelsea had 25 in November 2005, another match that ended in a 1-0 win for United.
Scoring goals was an all-too-familiar problem for Wolves last term but O’Neil was encouraged by what he saw.
“Huge credit to the lads,” O’Neil said. “There’s been some negativity surrounding the place but they’ve committed to what we asked of them and gone toe to toe with a top side at a difficult place to come and they’re disappointed.
“For the amount of shots we’ve had and the expected goals, we deserved at least a point…
“Bigger picture stuff and where we want to take the group, tonight is a big step four days in. Coming to a place like this it could have gone very differently.”
United struggled to find any flow and were second best in the second half until Aaron Wan-Bissaka latched on to a dinked ball from Bruno Fernandes, and lifted the ball over for Varane to nod home.
“It was a tough game,” Ten Hag said. “I think we can do much better on the ball. We proved that last season and also in pre-season but the pre-season is not the season and when the league starts opponents are more aggressive.
“Our decision-making could have been better and were not aggressive enough from that point of view, but there are a lot of positives to take. We fought for our lives and we survived with three points so well done.”