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Manchester United increased their tally of spot kicks for the season to 11 as Bruno Fernandes secured three points against Aston Villa on Friday, but some fans are crying foul amid claims of favoritism from match officials.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side needed a second-half penalty from Portuguese marksman Bruno Fernandes to eke out a 2-1 win against a game Villa side at Old Trafford to put them level on points with leaders Liverpool at the summit of the Premier League table but the Red Devils are facing accusations that French World Cup winner Paul Pogba ‘tripped himself up’ inside the box to win the crucial spot kick. 

Just after the hour mark, and shortly after Aston Villa’s Bertrand Traore had levelled proceedings at one goal apiece, Pogba tumbled in the penalty box under pressure from Brazilian midfielder Douglas Luiz, prompting the referee to point to the penalty spot.

Player fouled: Paul PogbaFouled by: Paul PogbaPenalty to Man Utd pic.twitter.com/xacUFfh0LA

9 – Since the start of February 2020, Bruno Fernandes has scored nine penalties in the Premier League – two more than any other player. Formality. pic.twitter.com/FF2pkA3iji

Of course Bruno Fernandes has scored the first penalty in 2021 😂😂😂😂😂😂😂

Man United getting the most penalties in 2021 then pic.twitter.com/zRftx2o7Vu

However, subsequent replays appeared to show that the Frenchman had tripped over his own foot in the crucial incident. Nonetheless, the foul was underscored by VAR review and Fernandes coolly dispatched the penalty in the bottom left corner of Emi Martinez’s net. 

The goal was United’s 11th in 25 games in all competitions so far this season and the 15th that Fernandes has scored in Manchester United colors since joining the club a year ago – meaning that he has converted a spot kick on average once every three weeks since joining the club.

The sheer number of penalty kicks being awarded to Manchester United in the past two seasons, many of which have come under controversial circumstances, has led to accusations that officials have one rule for United and another for the remaining 19 teams in the Premier League.

Highlight of the game 😡 https://t.co/GZZJhCOsMs

Embarrassing. The amount of penalties handed to United over the past two seasons is criminal.

Those are the fine margins United get that no other club get. 50/50’s swing their way coupled with 11 penalties this season.

Among those to object online was the man whom Fernandes fired the crucial penalty past, Argentine goalkeeper Emi Martinez who posted a video of the incident to Twitter and noted that it was the “highlight of the game“.

Villa boss Dean Smith was equally dismayed, noting after the game that the VAR official should have requested that referee Michael Oliver review the footage himself after he says that Pogba “tripped himself“.

I don’t see why Michael couldn’t have looked at it. That’s what VAR is for isn’t it?” Smith said. 

I thought it was a penalty at the time, but I looked at it after the game and saw he tripped himself. I don’t think it’s a penalty. I think there’s enough doubt there to send the referee over to the screen.”

Smith’s complaints echo those of several Premier League manager’s last season after United were awarded a record 14 Premier League penalties, and the most spot kicks of any team in Europe’s so-called ‘Big Five’ leagues.