Schmeichel blasts ‘stupid’ Man Utd star Fernandes after Barcelona win

Manchester United V Barcelona in pictures

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Former Manchester United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel branded Bruno Fernandes “stupid” for giving away a penalty in the first half of Manchester United’s 2-1 (4-3 on aggregate) win over Barcelona on Thursday evening. The Portuguese playmaker was adjudged to have fouled Alejandro Balde inside the box during the first half, before Robert Lewandowski’s penalty just found its way past David De Gea to open the scoring.

In the opening 20 minutes, Fernandes tangled with the Barcelona left-back as Balde attempted to turn in the United area and pulled the Spaniard down. The hosts complained but VAR sided with the on-field referee and no decision was made to overturn the call, despite protests from Erik ten Hag and his squad.

Schmeichel was furious with Fernandes for giving away a “stupid” penalty at a crucial time in the tie, claiming that the captain on the day “owes the team” for ensuring they went a goal down. “It looks like a penalty,” Schmeichel told BBC 5 Live. “It is so stupid to pull a man down inside the penalty area in a situation where Alejandro Balde is going away from goal. David de Gea gets a full hand to it but only manages to put it off the post and it still goes in.

“We are talking about big games, the one thing you have to eradicate is mistakes. Bruno Fernandes is still arguing, he needs to get a grip of himself, he has played a couple of sloppy passes. Now he has given away the penalty and he owes the team.”

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Lewandowski stuttered as he ran towards the penalty spot and De Gea got a hand to his effort, but the goalkeeper was made to look on as his fingertip was not enough to prevent the spot-kick from landing in the back of the net. Ex-England midfielder Owen Hargreaves agreed with Schmeichel that the challenge didn’t need to be made by Fernandes as Balde was moving away from the goal.

“No [Fernandes didn’t need to make contact with Balde],” Hargreaves told BT Sport. “I just think once he’s made contact sometimes it’s hard to let go, when you’re kind of holding onto someone. That was their first shot on target, the game was in the balance then so it completely changes it. Fair play to David, he almost saves it. Tries to delay it, Lewandowski’s giving him the eyes so tough start.”

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Paul Scholes, on the panel with Hargreaves, also conceded that while the contact was minimal between Fernandes and Balde, the referee made the correct decision. “I think just about,” Scholes added.

“I know it doesn’t look like there’s much contact, but when you get touched on the arm like that it does send you off balance and that’s clearly what he’s done.

“I don’t think the lad’s cheating one bit, I think it is just a little bit too much contact and you can understand why the referee has given it.”

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