‘It is as soft as soft could be’ - Smith on United’s match-winning penalty

Norwich City head coach Dean Smith was in no doubt Manchester United got lucky with their winning penalty

Norwich City head coach Dean Smith was in no doubt Manchester United got lucky with their winning penalty - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Dean Smith was in no doubt Manchester United got a huge break with Cristiano Ronaldo’s late penalty sinking Norwich City 1-0 in the Premier League at Carrow Road. 

The Canaries were on course for at least a point in a spirited display until Max Aarons was penalised for hauling down Ronaldo, who dusted himself off to send Tim Krul the wrong way from the spot. 

“I can’t question the performance. I can’t question the players, the spirit they showed and unfortunately you don’t always get what you deserve and tonight was certainly a case of that,” said the City chief. “I think the penalty is soft.

"Was there contact in the box? Yes. Was his arm on his shoulder? Yes. Is it enough to make the player go down? No, no. I could show you five or six incidents of that during the game that aren’t given.  

“I am disappointed with that. In general I thought they were allowed to dictate the game. I think Marcus Rashford gave himself a free kick in the first half and that is what annoys you a little bit.  

"We had one that hit the player’s hands, which were close to his body, but in the last few weeks you have see so many decisions it is hard to know what is a penalty and what isn’t.  

“I am sure if the referee doesn’t give the Ronaldo one, the (VAR) officials do not over- rule. It is as soft as soft could be.” 

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Smith was already without central defenders Ben Gibson (thigh) and Andrew Omobamidele (back) while the City chief confirmed afterwards Christos Tzolis must now self-isolate after a positive Covid test. But he then lost his captain Grant Hanley to a shoulder injury after 20 minutes, following a tussle with Ronaldo.

The big Scot was pictured watching the final moments with his arm in a sling.

"I am not sure how serious. He has landed on his shoulder, everyone can see that, and had to come off. He is a warrior so we knew when he had to stay down it was a problem," said Smith. "It didn’t help when Gibbo had to pull out on Friday with a tight thigh and we also had Andrew Omobamidele with a stiff back. We were down to the bare bones but I didn’t half think (Jacob) Sorensen went on and put in a hell of a performance. 

"Tzolis’ absence was related to the PCR test we talked about. He won’t be with us for a few more days now. Whatever the protocol is he has to follow."