Dean Smith was astounded VAR failed to overturn the penalty awarded to Manchester United which set the Red Devils on their way to a resounding 3-0 defeat of Aston Villa.
The relegation contenders lost again on Thursday night to remain four points from safety with only four matches remaining, with Bruno Fernandes, Mason Greenwood and Paul Pogba all netting to secure United a valuable victory as they chase a top four finish.
It is hard to deny the visitors deserved their win at Villa Park, but the manner of Fernandes’ opening goal leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.
Referee Jon Moss called for a penalty to United when Fernandes went down in the area after clashing with Ezri Konsa, and, naturally, the decision was referred to VAR.
But while viewers at home largely agreed the decision should be overturned, Moss’ initial call was adjudged to be correct and the penalty stood.
This was despite replays appearing to show Fernandes collapsing onto Konsa and actually stamping on the Villa defender’s leg – implying he was the aggressor, not the victim, in this challenge.
And Villa boss Smith believes his side were hard done by given United only started gaining a foothold in the game after Fernandes converted the resulting spot-kick.
“It unravelled with the first goal, I think,” he told Sky Sports. “I think we made a really bright start to the game, put them under pressure, took chances; Trez has hit the post.
“They’re a quality team that will always be a threat on the counter because of the pace they’ve got and the quality they’ve got.
“It’s all changed around on the penalty decision.
“I can understand Jon [Moss] getting it wrong but if that goes to VAR, I don’t know what they’re looking at. It’s a disgraceful decision.”
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the United manager, made it clear that he disagreed with Smith’s opinion on the penalty.
“I don’t think so,” he said in his press conference. “I think the boy, he’s done a Zidane turn and the boy has stuck his leg out and Bruno has landed on him.
“If I try to jump away from someone and I land on someone as they try to tackle me, it’s a penalty so for me it’s a pen.”
It was another great night for United but the Norwegian wanted even more from his free-scoring side.
“I think we could have scored many, many more goals and we’re keeping clean sheets,” Solskjaer added. “But, of course, we keep just going into every game wanting to win. If you win 1-0, 2-0 or 3-0, it doesn’t matter if we get the points.
“Hopefully the goal difference won’t be the deciding factor in the end because we should have had 10 more goals the last two games.”