Referees’ body apologises for Andre Onana let-off as Wolves denied penalty

Manchester United's Andre Onana (R) tackles Wolverhampton Wanderers Sasa Kalajdzic

The PGMOL, the referees’ body, apologised to Wolverhampton Wanderers within minutes of their controversial 1-0 defeat away to Manchester United after the failure to award them a blatant injury-time penalty.

Wolves’ new head coach Gary O’Neil revealed that he had talked to the former referee Jonathan Moss who is now the Select Group 1 manager at the PGMOL.

“Having spoken to Jonathan Moss he has come out and apologised and said it was a blatant penalty,” O’Neil revealed.

“I sometimes feel bad. I have spent a lot of time with him [Moss] today, given up a lot of my day to understand the new guidelines and trying not to get myself booked in the first game, which I have failed in, but fair play to Jon for coming out and saying it was a clear and obvious error and he couldn’t believe the on-field ref didn’t give it and can’t believe Var didn’t intervene. It probably made me feel worse actually because you know you are right. I feel worse about leaving with nothing.”

Andre Onana of Manchester United collides with Sasa Kalajdzic

Onana did not manage to claim the ball in the incident but got away with it – Getty Images/Jack Thomas

Bizarrely Moss’s judgment was at odds with the initial reaction of the PGMOL – the Professional Game Match Official Board – who claimed the incident was checked and cleared by Var. It was not deemed a clear and obvious error so they stuck with the on-field decision.

To add further insult to injury, O’Neil was cautioned for his protests by referee Simon Hooper who was not asked by the Var Michael Salisbury to review the incident in which United goalkeeper Andre Onana charged into striker Sasa Kalajdzic.

It looked like the penalty should have been given but Hooper was not told to check the pitch-side monitor while Salisbury is no stranger to controversy himself having been dropped from Premier League duties after a costly blunder in Brighton’s defeat to Tottenham Hotspur last season.

The incident added to Wolves’ sense of grievance, having dominated the game and failing to take the clearest chances. O’Neil, who only took over last week, was the manager of Bournemouth last season and felt then that refereeing decisions also went against his side.

“I spoke to Howard Webb [PGMOL’s chief refereeing officer] virtually every Sunday last season about decisions that did not go our way at Bournemouth… I just think it’s human nature that if there is something that you are not quite sure on then it is impacted by the Old Trafford crowd. That is where the Var comes in.”

O’Neil added: “I thought live it was a penalty. It looked like the keeper nearly took our forward’s head off. I think it is a foul, you go for the ball and clatter the player that hard, it is a penalty. I thought he was going over to the screen at first but unfortunately he booked me and not Onana.”

United manager Erik ten Hag defended Onana and the decision not to award the penalty. “He had very good saves, was very calm, very good debut,” Ten Hag said. “After the opponent touched the ball he dived in so it was the judgement of the officials and lucky for us no penalty. I think you can debate it but I think no penalty.”

“It is difficult. The keeper was brave to come out to meet the ball. The ball was touched before Andre dived in, so he did not influence the touch [attempt] from the Wolves player.”

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