Manchester City stars angrily confronted referee Stuart Attwell in the Old Trafford tunnel after Bruno Fernandes’ goal was controversially allowed to stand, according to reports. Manchester United came from behind to win Saturday’s derby but the victory was prompted by a contentious strike by Fernandes.
Kyle Walker, Jack Grealish and Manuel Akanji apparently led furious complaints after the full-time whistle. The players followed Attwell into the tunnel and continued their bitter protests behind-the-scenes.
City had a fair point that Fernandes’ goal might have been ruled out. Marcus Rashford was well offside as he latched onto a through ball and could have been considered to be interfering with play as he was clearly in possession, regardless of whether he touched the ball.
But Fernandes took the ball from the feet of the United attacker, curling in a wonderful strike to level after Grealish had headed City into the lead on the hour-mark. Assistant referee Darren Cann initially flagged for offside but the decision was overturned by VAR.
Fernandes’ goal came on 78 minutes, just four minutes before Rashford struck the winner to hand Erik ten Hag a first derby triumph. City were livid with the decision as they succumbed to successive defeats, and the Mirror report that Attwell took the brunt of that fury as he was confronted by the trio.
“To be honest, the first goal is a joke that it’s allowed. Rashford is clearly offside so I played him offside. He runs to the last second and only stops because Bruno is coming in behind him,” City defender Akanji raged to reporters.
“I understand he doesn’t touch the ball but he runs for 30 metres, chasing the ball then he stops. The ref didn’t look at the situation.
“The referee didn’t say anything to me but I talked to the linesman and he said, ‘Did Rashford touch the ball?’ I said, ‘no but he’s chasing the ball for a long time.’
“In that situation, the referee has to at least look at the situation and can understand the situation I am in and Kyle [Walker] on the other side. Probably the pressure got to him in the stadium. That’s why he decided to let it go.”
City boss Guardiola insisted that the Old Trafford crowd were responsible for the goal being awarded. The Spaniard told Sky Sports: “Marcus Rashford is offside, Bruno Fernandes is not. Rashford distracted our keeper and centre defenders. It is what it is. We know where we play. It is difficult for the referees in these stadiums.”