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Ten Hag backs officials over penalty drama and calls for improvement after lacklustre United display

Ten Hag backs officials over penalty drama and calls for improvement after lacklustre United display

Erik ten Hag has had his say on the controversial VAR decision not to award Wolves a late penalty at Old Trafford after Andre Onana clattered into Sasa Kalajdzic in the Manchester United box.

United were outplayed for large periods of the game against Wolves but opened the scoring in the 76th minute when Raphael Varane headed home Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s cross.

The Dutchman acknowledged the performance was below the standard he expects but was understandably happy to start the new Premier League season with three points.

“It can be better. We can play better. But we’re very pleased with the win,” Ten Hag told BBC Sport. “The opposition were dynamic. We have to match that. We had to fight for our points.

“There is no easy game in the Premier League and definitely not Wolves. They’re a tough team and we did really well. You have to fight in every game.

“We hope we’ll be better on the ball in the next game.”

On Onana and the penalty incident, he added: “He had very good saves, was very calm, very good debut.

“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.”

O’Neil: ‘The lads deserved more’

But the visitors dominated proceedings, registering 23 shots on the United goal, the second most in a Premier League away game since 2003-04. It’s a credit to what Gary O’Neil has been able to achieve in just a short amount of time at the club.

The former Bournemouth manager heaped praise on his players for the performance and admitted he’d already grilled officials about the controversial penalty snub.

“I thought live it was a penalty. I think it is a foul, you go for the ball and clatter the player that hard, it is a penalty,” O’Neil told Sky Sports.

“I thought he was going over to the screen at first but unfortunately he booked me and not Onana.

“I understand the rules [of sticking with the on-field decisions as much as possible], but I don’t fully accept it.

“I have spoken to the officials about it already. It is a difficult decision for the on-field official, we can’t just leave it. If we are all saying it, then he need to have a look.

“In the end we can’t just focus on that decision. To come to Old Trafford and have the most shots of any side since 2005 and dominate after just four days of work is exceptional. The lads deserved more tonight.”

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