Manchester United caretaker manager Ralf Rangnick has revealed it was Cristiano Ronaldo’s own decision not to take the crucial penalty in the Red Devils’ 3-1 loss to Arsenal.
The Gunners scored twice in 34 minutes through Nuno Tavares and Bukayo Saka before Ronaldo netted one for United – and Rangnick’s men had a magnificent chance to equalize when a penalty was awarded in the second half.
To everyone’s surprise, Bruno Fernandes got up to take it, Ronaldo didn’t – and the midfielder missed his effort at the post and wide.
Granit Xhaka then put the game out of United’s reach, possibly with the top four, as the Gunners are now six points clear of the Red Devils with one game less.
Kicking the missed penalty, Rangnick explained that Ronaldo, who announced the death of his newborn son five days ago, did not feel comfortable taking it.
The German told talkSPORT: “They both talk about it and Cristiano told me he didn’t feel good enough or he didn’t think he should take the penalty – and that’s why Bruno took it.”
When asked if it had to do with his recent personal tragedy, Rangnick replied, “I don’t know. You will have to ask him.
“They both took penalties and converted penalties, so it’s up to them both to decide.”
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Speaking on talkSPORT live commentary, former Premier League striker Dean Ashton suggested that missing the penalty could cost United Champions League qualification – and Rangnick appears to agree.
He admitted the kick transformed the game and the result now leaves them unlikely to finish in the top four, with Tottenham also ahead of them and enjoying a game less.
“I think the equalizer at that time, in one of our best moments in the game, would have changed it,” Rangnick added.
“It would have boosted confidence. Even after this penalty, we still had the opportunity with Dalot when he touched the post.
“For me, Cristiano’s second goal was not offside. We could watch it ourselves, it was on one line, there was no offside situation.
“I also thought we were unlucky with other VAR situations besides that one.”
Asked about United’s first four chances, he continued: “It’s not mathematically impossible, but it’s not very realistic.
“A win today, or at least a draw after being 2-0 down, would have helped us.”
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