Penalty FC: Judging Whether Every Manchester United Penalty Decision This Season Was Correct

Bruno Fernandes
Bruno Fernandes slots home a penalty against Hugo Lloris | Pool/Getty Images

Bruno Fernandes’ spot-kick against Aston Villa was Manchester United’s 13th penalty given to the Red Devils this season, equalling the record for most penalties awarded to a side in one Premier League campaign.

And while Jonathan Moss’ decision to give the penalty was questionable – ‘questionable’ in this case meaning definitely not a penalty – unfortunately a moral compass towards penalties wasn’t included in the transfer fee United paid for Fernandes.

Including cup competitions, United have been awarded 18 penalties in total this season. It makes sense when you consider the pace they have up front and how deadly Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side can be on the counter.

With so many penalties awarded, it makes perfect sense to go back and analyse each one, giving an opinion on whether not it was actually the right decision. An expert’s opinion, that is. Obviously.

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Antonio Rudiger tumbles into Marcus Rashford, leaving his leg in like an amateur. Rashford scored with ease as United demolished Chelsea.

Was it a Penalty? Stonewall.

Significance of Penalty: First of four goals, killed Chelsea’s momentum despite them looking the better side.

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With 20 minutes to play, Conor Coady leaves his trailing leg in and trips Paul Pogba, who burst into the box from a one-two with Anthony Martial.

Was it a Penalty? A little soft, but no complaints from Coady.

Significance of Penalty? Pogba’s effort was saved and Manchester United went onto draw as a result. If only Rashford had taken it…

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Luka Milivojevic sticks a leg in that sends Scott McTominay tumbling to the floor as he burst through on goal. Rashford resumes penalty duties, but hits the post.

Was it a Penalty? Clear as day.

Significance of Penalty: United arguably should’ve had a penalty given before this one, so to miss it and then concede a last-minute winner was cruel. Even if Daniel James’ equaliser celebration was uncalled for…

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Caglar Soyuncu barges into Rashford whose pace allows him to get to the loose ball first, giving United the penalty inside 10 minutes. Rashford slots away with ease.

Was it a Penalty? All day.

Significance of Penalty: Only goal of the game.

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Teenager Brandon Williams is hacked down in the box following a strong run from left back. Martial scores. Penchester Penited on their European tour. Get it? Because penalties. Lots of them.

Was it a Penalty? Stonewall.

Significance of Penalty: Only goal of the game.

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The penalty tour bus made its way swiftly back to England as Manchester United missed two spot kicks in one game. It really doesn’t get more Manchester United post-Fergie than this.

Were They Both Penalties? First one was soft, but VAR awarded it anyway. VAR also awarded the second one for handball on Todd Cantwell, which is a lot clearer.

Significance of Penalties: Tim Krul went full World Cup 2014 mode on United, but his two stops weren’t enough as he conceded three goals from open play anyway. Unlucky, Tim.

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Some things in life are inevitable. Peter Kay joking about garlic bread, the Undertaker repeatedly coming out of retirement, and Marcus Rashford scoring penalties against Chelsea. Four penalties from three games for the Red Devils.

Was it a Penalty? Marcos Alonso comes across Dan James, but it’s a very soft one. Arguably not.

Significance of Penalty: United won 2-1 thanks to the opening spot-kick, knocking Chelsea out of the Carabao Cup. Ouch.

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Rashford’s early Christmas present in 2019 was another penalty, to absolutely no one’s surprise. His brace handed Jose Mourinho his first loss as Spurs manager.

Was it a Penalty? Moussa Sissoko puts a foot in as Rashford goes past him, but in truth he barely catches the winger. Very harsh.

Significance of Penalty: It proved to be the winning goal for United which would’ve been harsh on Spurs had they played well. They hadn’t.

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Rashford clearly made Father Christmas’ ‘nice list’ in 2019, as he earned a penalty away to Manchester City in the first derby of the season. He was clumsily bodied to the floor by Bernardo Silva 23 minutes in.

Was it a Penalty? Stonewall.

Significance of Penalty: United went two nil up after the spot-kick, but held off against a late City fight back.

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Juan Mata popped up with a rare strike from 12 yards as United ran riot over their Dutch visitors. Mason Greenwood burst into the box and was hacked down in front of the Stretford End.

Was it a Penalty? No question.

Significance of Penalty: United were already two nil up, the game was already decided.

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‘New year, new me’ unless your name is Marcus Rashford and you love a penalty. The 22-year-old bagged a brace on his 200th appearance for United, after Tim Krul charged at Brandon Williams unsuccessfully.

Was it a Penalty? Textbook from Williams, no complaints.

Significance of Penalty: Second of four United goals. Opened the floodgates for the Red Devils.

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In a complete onslaught, Tahith Chong is taken out by Tranmere’s keeper attempting to rush for the ball. He goes to ground on a pitch in peak Sunday league conditions, and Mason Greenwood scores.

Was it a Penalty? Clear as day.

Significance of Penalty: The game was already 5-0, thus Greenwood’s strike was merely salt in the wounds.

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Bruno Fernandes skips past Ben Foster in the Watford goal before being taken down to win a clear penalty and score his first Manchester United goal. He’s had every United fan wrapped around his little finger since.

Was it a Penalty? All day.

Significance of Penalty: Opened the scoring in a 3-0 win, and was the first example of Fernandes immediately becoming a better babyface than Seth Rollins ever will be.

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Bruno opened the scoring with a penalty once more following the most obvious handball one will see this season. There’s still no explaining Simon Deli’s thought process, but you almost have to admire it.

Was it a Penalty? Clearer than ever.

Significance of Penalty: Opened the floodgates for United who had been dominant from the first whistle. Lost Brugge the game.

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Fernandes scored his third penalty goal for United since signing in January, after Eric Dier shoved Paul Pogba to the floor. If that isn’t ‘United DNA’, then what is?

Was it a Penalty? Pogba bundles over, but it’s a clear penalty.

Significance of Penalty: The strike rescued United a point following David de Gea’s early mistake.

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In a game that summarised the state of football since the restart following a three-month absence, Adam Smith’s handball allowed United to take the lead against Bournemouth.

Was it a Penalty? Blatant.

Significance of Penalty: Bournemouth went 1-0 up at Old Trafford, but never recovered after Rashford converted from the spot.

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Fernandes converted yet another penalty to cement himself as a true Manchester United player, which opened the scoring in a 3-0 victory. In the incident that resulted in the spot-kick, Fernandes falls over the top of Ezri Konsa when attempting a roulette.

Was it a Penalty? No chance.

Significance of Penalty: It killed Aston Villa’s strong opening quarter and let United kick on. With the Red Devils now scoring penalties they absolutely shouldn’t have been awarded, now is a more fitting time than ever for Rio Ferdinand to gush about how ‘United are back’, right?

Let’

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