Paul Robinson has hailed ‘genius’ Emiliano Martinez for his antics before Bruno Fernandes blazed a decisive penalty over the Argentine’s post.
Manchester United fans were in dreamland after referee Mike Dean awarded a penalty in injury time. Only minutes ago, Kortney Hause had clinched the opener for Villa, which looked like the winner then. However, the jubilant mood inside Old Trafford soon went grim after Bruno Fernandes blazed his penalty over to hand the visitors three points.
Emiliano Martinez stood close to Fernandes before the spot-kick, making gestures to Cristiano Ronaldo to take the shot instead. The Aston Villa players were seen crowding the Portuguese kick-taker, and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was not impressed by those antics, which went on to unsettle Fernandes.
Martinez was at the centre of controversy during the Copa America semi-finals against Colombia, where he was caught thrash talking to many kick-takers, especially Everton defender Yerry Mina. The Argentine shot-stopper seems to have used the same tactics before Fernandes and unsettled him.
Martinez was caught dancing in front of the Manchester United crowd as soon as Fernandes missed his kick. It caused much furore among Old Trafford faithful but one that was thoroughly enjoyed by Villa fans. While some have criticised his tactics, former Tottenham ace Paul Robinson was not one of them.
Robinson was left impressed by Martinez’s antics and called the Aston Villa keeper a ‘genius’ for his methods before the spot-kick. The ex-England stopper explained to Football Insider how the Argentine goalkeeper ‘put a seed of doubt’ in Fernandes’ mind before the unfortunate penalty kick.
Robinson said, “I thought it was brilliant from Martinez. He plays some great mind games. As a goalkeeper, you are not the favourite when it comes to a penalty, so anything you can do to give yourself the edge or a slight advantage is worth doing. You want to put that seed of doubt in the striker’s mind.”
“Martinez has on multiple occasions proved he is very good in those situations. Speaking to Ronaldo in earshot of Fernandes saying, ‘You should take the penalty.’ It is genius. It put that seed of doubt in Fernandes’ mind because everyone’s been wondering who takes free kicks and penalties now that Ronaldo is there.”
“You could see what Martinez was playing at, and it immediately put pressure on Fernandes. It was very clever from Martinez, who for me is one of, if not the best goalkeeper in the Premier League right now. I think he is outstanding.”
The former Tottenham goalkeeper might not be wrong in his assessment as Bruno Fernandes seldom misses from the spot. Nevertheless, Aston Villa fans and Dean Smith would be ecstatic with everything that transpired as at the end of it all, the visitors grabbed all three points, with Manchester United plunged into chaos.