In a recent Premier League fixture between Manchester United and Wolves, a controversial decision by VAR (Video Assistant Referee) has sparked widespread debate. In the final moments of the match, Manchester United’s debutant goalkeeper, Andre Onana, collided with Wolves forward Sasa Kalajdzic. Despite what appeared to many as a clear penalty situation, VAR chose not to intervene, and referee Simon Hooper did not award a penalty to Wolves.
The incident occurred as Onana went to claim the ball but seemed to miss it completely before colliding with Kalajdzic. The clash was reviewed by VAR, but the check was deemed complete without Hooper having to consult the pitch-side monitor. Manchester United held on for a 1-0 win, but the decision left many fans and pundits in disbelief, with a majority feeling that a penalty should have been awarded to Wolves.
Adding to the controversy, Wolves’ manager Gary O’Neil revealed that he received an apology from Jon Moss, manager of the Premier League’s elite group of officials, after the match. O’Neil was quoted saying, “We have just spoken to Jon Moss, and fair play to him for coming straight out and apologising and saying it was a blatant penalty and should have been given.”
🗣️ "No, totally no."
André Onana is confident that Wolves wouldn't get a penalty for his collision with Sasa Kalajdzic late in the game last night. pic.twitter.com/dKhUor6Oha
Despite the apology, the decision had significant consequences. Wolves, who registered 23 shots on goal (the most by an away side at Old Trafford since Chelsea in 2005), were left empty-handed due to Raphael Varane’s winner for Manchester United.
For his part, Onana told Sky Sports that he didn’t feel a penalty should have been awarded. “It was just contact between two big guys,” said the Manchester United debutant. “I was very calm and confident it would not be a penalty.”
The incident has raised questions about VAR’s effectiveness and the influence of home crowds on match officials’ decisions. O’Neil suggested that the Old Trafford crowd might have swayed the officials, stating, “I just think it’s human nature. If there’s a decision you’re not sure about, everyone would be impacted by the Old Trafford crowd and the fact it’s Manchester United.”
This incident marks a significant point of discussion as it not only affected the outcome of a high-profile match but also highlighted the ongoing issues surrounding VAR and its implementation in football.