Manchester United’s players were left furious after referee Martin Atkinson correctly awarded one of the strangest goals you are ever likely to see in the Premier League. It was the visitors Arsenal, who were victors on this ground last season, who took the lead at Old Trafford in an absolutely mind-blowing passage of play.
Following Arsenal’s third successive corner, goalkeeper David de Gea went to the floor after his own player Fred, stood on his foot.
While the Spaniard was down, he left his goal unguarded and as the corner was cleared, Emile Smith Rowe was able to steer home a brilliant low drive with his weak foot.
The man in the middle Atkinson appeared to put the whistle to his lips but the VAR review later revealed that the whistle was not blown until the ball was into the back of the net.
While checks were underway, the general consensus inside Old Trafford was that United were set to be awarded a free-kick.
De Gea seemed to think that he was fouled by an opposition player – as did his United team-mates.
But they were in for a major shock and they then exploded when Atkinson awarded the goal following consultation with the officials at Stockley Park.
The strike was England international Smith Rowe’s sixth of the season in 11 appearances.
For a moment, it looked like Atkinson was set to award De Gea the free-kick before he eventually put his finger to his ear.
He had placed the ball down on the United six-yard line as De Gea waited to take the free-kick.
The Amazon commentary team, made up of Peter Drury, Ally McCoist and former Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg, were under no illusions that the goal should be awarded.
It was not the start that interim boss Ralf Rangnick wanted to see as he watched on from the stands.
The German has finally had his work permit approved meaning he will be in the dugout for the clash with Crystal Palace on Sunday.
Caretaker manager Michael Carrick made it clear he’s had no contact with Rangnick, which would suggest the former RB Leipzig did not have a say on the team selection against Arsenal.
“Literally, I haven’t really got anything to update you on,” Carrick said in his pre-match press conference.
“Apart from the work permit process is ongoing now as we speak and I’m in this position as I was for Villarreal and Chelsea, getting the boys ready for the game tomorrow night.
“Have I spoken to him? No. It’s pretty much as it was when I said there, about both games we’ve already been to, because of the process and the work permit we haven’t been able to.
“So we’ve carried on as we have done, it’s worked well for the last two games and, hopefully, it works well tomorrow.”