Bruno Fernandes has confirmed that he remains Manchester United ’s first-choice penalty taker, even though he missed a vital spot-kick in the defeat by Aston Villa.
The miss prompted calls for superstar signing Cristiano Ronaldo to be given the duties from 12 yards in the future by boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
That is despite Fernandes enjoying a remarkable penalty conversion rate of 91 per cent across his career, missing just four out of 47 attempted.
Two of those misses have come since he joined the Red Devils, with the midfielder scoring his other 22 penalties, putting his conversion rate above Ronaldo’s 85 per cent mark.
Until now, Fernandes has been virtually flawless from the penalty spot for United, but he faced calls to be stripped of the job in the aftermath of Saturday’s defeat.
Villa took the lead thanks to Kortney Hause’s powerful header two minutes before the end of normal time.
But the defender was then adjudged to have handled Edinson Cavani’s header by referee Mike Dean, who pointed to the spot.
Amid the protests that followed from the visitors, Villa keeper Emiliano Martinez started some mind games with Fernandes and Ronaldo.
The Argentine could be seen taunting Ronaldo to take the penalty instead of Fernandes, who was in clear earshot of the discussion.
Despite Martinez’s pleas, it was Fernandes who stepped up, but the Portugal international blazed his spot-kick high over the bar.
That ensured that United’s unbeaten record in the Premier League came to a screeching end, with Villa claiming their first win at Old Trafford for 12 years.
Fernandes’ miss certainly proved costly and led to growing clamour for Ronaldo to take spot kicks.
But it appears that Solskjaer has chosen to ignore those calls for the moment, with Fernandes confirming he remained the first-choice taker for the visit of Villarreal in the Champions League.
Fernandes did admit that the United boss retains to right to decide who will be first-choice for each game, but insisted he had the duties on Wednesday.
“I was on penalties but we didn’t get one. The manager will decide before the game who takes it,” he told BT Sport .
Despite being first-choice, Fernandes’ spot-kick abilities were not needed against Unai Emery’s men.
But it did fall to Ronaldo to ensure that Solskjaer’s side survived a scare against their Spanish visitors, scoring deep into added time to secure their first Champions League win of the season.
The only other Premier League side who Fernandes has missed a penalty against is Newcastle, with that failed spot-kick coming in October 2020.
United will not face the Magpies again until Boxing Day, though Solskjaer may of course change his first-choice taker before that date.
The Red Devils are next in action on Saturday lunchtime, when they host Everton, with Fernandes yet to take a spot-kick against the Toffees.