‘It was never a free kick!’ - Erik ten Hag questions officials before Luke Shaw handball as Man Utd slip up in top-four race to Brighton
- Brighton beat Man Utd 1-0
- Mac Allister scored late in injury time
- Ten Hag criticised referee for awarding a soft free kick
WHAT HAPPENED? United and Brighton went hammer and tongs at each other until a 99th-minute penalty from Alexis Mac Allister tilted the scales in favour of the Seagulls.
Although there was little doubt about the penalty decision, there have been questions raised about a free kick in the build-up to the penalty. Left-back Luke Shaw appeared to block Julio Enciso from latching on to a flick outside the box and referee Andre Marriner blew the whistle. The free-kick resulted in a corner, which was deflected off Shaw's hand inside the box, and after a VAR check, the spot kick was rightly awarded to the hosts.
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WHAT THEY SAID: Ten Hag felt that his team was unlucky as, in his opinion, it was not a foul, as he told Sky Sports: "It was also a little unlucky because it was never a free kick from where the corner came from but then you can’t bounce back anymore and that is what we have to do on Sunday. It is handball, maybe he is out of balance or maybe got a push in the back. My anger is more about the free kick before the corner, it was never a free kick. There were so many bad tackles tonight."
THE BIGGER PICTURE: However, the manager did not put the blame entirely on the officials and was livid with his forwards for not being clinical enough in front of the goal. He also criticised his troops for losing their focus at a critical point which cost them three points.
"We have to be more clinical on our chances we produced in the first half. In the end we gave away a goal and that can’t happen. We had the chances clear. Great opportunities, one has to be in," he continued. "I don’t have concerns. It is about keeping the focus. Don’t lose the focus, then we take that point. In the end if you can’t win it because you don’t finish the chances then don’t lose.
"It is not about the officials, we have to finish the chances, be more clinical and don’t make the mistakes we did like in the last seconds. We have everything in our hands and we have to bounce back. We take the lessons from tonight and we have to move on.”
IN THREE PHOTOS:
DID YOU KNOW? United's away record against top nine teams this season doesn't make for pretty reading, as they are winless in eight outings (D1, L7).
WHAT NEXT? After a disappointing defeat on the south coast, United will look to return to winning ways against West Ham on Sunday.