Fernandes’s mistake and more moments missed in Manchester United defeat to Arsenal

Manchester United’s Champions League hopes are all but over after they were defeated by Arsenal 3-1 on Saturday afternoon.

Even with everything on the line, United still couldn’t shake their tendency to shoot themselves in the foot at both sides of the pitch. Utterly dreadful defending from both Raphael Varane and Alex Telles in just the second minute led to Nuno Tavares bundling home the opener and it was an uphill battle from there.

Bukayo Saka dispatched a penalty twenty minutes later after Eddie Nketiah had seen his own goal disallowed for off-side. Yet, due to a Telles foul on Saka in the build-up, a spot-kick was awarded instead. United actually attacked quite well and a few moments later the deficit was halved after Ronaldo finished brilliantly from Nemanja Matic’s cross.

ALSO READ: Ronaldo praised after another remarkable record in Manchester United vs Arsenal

In the second-half, Ralf Rangnick’s side pushed for an opener and had several opportunities to find it but couldn’t take them. The most obvious of which was when Bruno Fernandes hit the post with a penalty. Grant Xhaka then sealed the Gunners’ victory with a thumping shot from distance.

The loss means United have slipped six points behind fourth place with just four games remaining and any hopes of playing in Europe’s top competition next season have now been extinguished.

Here are four moments you may have missed from the match.

1 – Arsenal pay respect to Ronaldo

Following on from Liverpool’s emotional tribute to Ronaldo after the tragic death of his baby son last week, Arsenal fans also gave a minute’s applause in the seventh minute to pay respect to Ronaldo’s family. The gesture was just as touching as it was at Anfield.

Ronaldo returned to the team after missing the trip to Merseyside while on compassionate leave and put in a brilliant display.

2 – Why penalty wasn’t given

While United were a goal down there were big shouts from both Ronaldo and Sancho for a handball and replays of the incident seemed to prove their case. Arsenal right-back Cedric Soares was down on all fours and clearly flicked the ball away with his arm as Sancho was trying to go through on goal.

It seemed a clear penalty but it wasn’t given and BT Sport’s officiating expert Peter Dalton explained why it wasn’t in the aftermath of the incident.

“It is not a penalty because if the ball is trapped between your body and arm,” he said. “It can not be given but I think the referee made the right decision at that moment.”

3 – Fernandes’ costly display

No one could have missed Fernandes’ agonizing penalty miss in which he took a strange run-up before hitting the post even though Aaron Ramsdale in goal had dived so early and left the goal begging. But his other costly mistake of his could have gone under the radar.

Fernandes lost the ball outside his own area and instead of chasing to win it back threw his arms up in frustration, before they were down again Granit Xhaka had blasted in the third and ended United’s promising chances of a comeback. He was then booked for a late, nasty challenge on Tavares that could have seen him punished further.

The Portuguese form has been nose-diving in recent weeks and this was potentially his worst display yet.

4 – Kill gets the armband

With six minutes remaining, Ferandnes was finally taken off and received loud boos from the home crowd as he left the pitch. Juan Mata was his replacement and he captained United for the final minutes of the game, taking the armband off vice-captain Fernandes in Harry Maguire’s absence.

Mata is likely to leave the club when his contract expires in the summer and though it was for just a few minutes in a losing effort, it was nice to see him lead the side for perhaps the last time.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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