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The big question: Is United not good at penalty taking?

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28 Oct 2019
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Anthony Martial

Manchester United suffered a Krul twist of fate. The Norwich goalkeeper stopped spot-kicks from Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial but the strikers were decisive in open play.

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Rashford and Martial missed spot-kicks in the breeze of a victory at Carrow Road. United has been awarded the highest number of penalties in the Premier League this season. Out of the six penalties, United has contrived to miss four of them.

Rashford’s penalty against Norwich was not pleasing. He placed a shot so gently down the center that Tim Krul could not only fall on the ball but smother it.

Martial was a bit better. He hit the ball down low to Krul’s left, some distance inside the post and didn’t require the Krul to fully extend himself not metaphorically.

Still, on the match with their rivals, there was some relief that these gifts were spurned. Firstly, they would have nailed the contest earlier than it happened and neither the home fans nor United would have wanted that.

Secondly, there was the fact that both penalty awards came after lengthy consultation with VAR. The sense that neither a shoulder-to-shoulder challenge between Daniel James and Ben Godfrey and a shot caught on Todd Cantwell’s arm with his back turned was so obvious as to merit overturning referee Stuart Attwell’s decision.

The two penalties were ultimately awarded. However, they were ultimately missed. This gave rise to the trending question as to why the penalties were missed. Did it have to do with Krul’s performance?

With that aside, good news for United was in the rest of their play. Decisiveness was one of the defining qualities.

Aaron-Wan-Bissaka typified the quality most clearly with an imperious performance at right-back. But he was hardly alone.

Rashford responded to his penalty failure by scoring United’s second goal of the game five minutes later. His finish displayed the kind of ice-cold technique of which he is eminently capable of.

United’s third goal was converted by Martial as he dinked Rashford’s looping lay-off over the advancing Krul.

Solskjaer has been outspoken in his support for Martial by insisting he can be the club’s main striker. With that goal, the Norwegian will feel vindicated.

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