Bournemouth 2-2 Man Utd: Were the penalty decisions correct?

  • Man Utd were fortunate to escape Bournemouth with a point on Saturday night
  • Red Devils handed second-half penalty for Adam Smith handball
  • Cherries had late spot-kick of their own overturned by VAR
Bournemouth had a late penalty overturned by VAR against Manchester United
Bournemouth had a late penalty overturned by VAR against Manchester United / Catherine Ivill - AMA/GettyImages

Manchester United missed a huge opportunity to close the gap on the Premier League top four after Tottenham were battered at St James' Park on Saturday afternoon.

The momentum gained from Erik ten Hag's woefully flawed entertainers' 2-2 draw with Liverpool last weekend was sapped on the south coast as they were twice forced to come from behind to earn a point. They're now ten points adrift of Aston Villa in fourth with just six games remaining, with less desirable European football set to be in the offing for next season.

Simply put, Ten Hag's side do not deserve a spot among the continent's elite and many will argue that they were fortunate to escape with a point at the Vitality Stadium.

There were two moments of contention which fell United's way as they earned a second-half penalty before Bournemouth had a late spot-kick of their own overturned by the video assistant referee (VAR).

But did the officials get these decisions correct? Let's take a look.

Adam Smith's handball

Adam Smith
Smith was harshly penalised for handball / Catherine Ivill - AMA/GettyImages

United were playing catch-up in the second half after Justin Kluivert had restored Bournemouth's lead before the break and were handed a gift just after the hour when Adam Smith was penalised for handball.

Kobbie Mainoo's effort was blocked by Ryan Christie, with Smith handling the ricochet. Referee Tony Harrington was quick to point to the spot and the decision was upheld by VAR.

Many were left aghast by the decision, but Smith made a slight movement towards the ball which prevented it from reaching Marcus Rashford inside the area. Smith's resigned look after the incident says it all, with Sky Sports pundits Izzy Christiansen and Jamie Redknapp agreeing that the right decision was made.

"I've seen a lot worse given," Redknapp commented. Nevertheless, it's harsh on Smith and it's unlikely VAR would have awarded a penalty had Harrington not given it on-field.

Willy Kambwala's foul on Ryan Christie

Ryan Christie
Kambwala brought down Christie in stoppage time / Marc Atkins/GettyImages

It looked as if Bournemouth would get a chance to win the contest when Harrington pointed to the spot following Willy Kambwala's collision with Ryan Christie in stoppage time.

However, VAR intervened and recommended Harrington to instead award a free-kick, deeming that the foul had started just outside the box.

It was mightily tight and, although Cherries boss Andoni Iraola was convinced his side should have had a penalty, the correct decision was made. The contact did begin just outside the box and the International Football Association Board's (IFAB) laws of the game state that infringements that take place outside the penalty area cannot be awarded as a penalty kick.

"If you put the frame up, they are maybe one centimetre inside the box, but it (the foul) continues inside the area," Iraola said post-match.

"He [Kambwala] goes with Ryan Christie two metres inside the box. It is obvious."

While penalties can be awarded for 'holding' fouls which start outside but continue into the box, as this incident was a mere collision, it's a matter of whether or not the first impact was inside or outside the area.