Gary O’Neil was left perplexed at the decision not to award his Wolves side a penalty in added time in their defeat by Manchester United and quickly received an apology from the Professional Game Match Officials Limited.

Sasa Kalajdzic was caught in the face in the penalty area by the United goalkeeper, André Onana, but neither the referee, Simon Hooper, nor his VAR colleagues deemed it worthy of a penalty. “It looked like the goalkeeper tried to take the centre-forward’s head off is what it looked like live and when I watch it now it looks the same,” O’Neil said. “I’m really surprised it’s not a foul. If you go for the ball and clatter the player that hard it has to be a foul. I’m not surprised we didn’t get it. I thought he was coming to the screen but he came over to book me.”

The referees’ manager, Jonathan Moss, spoke to O’Neil after the final whistle regarding the failure to award the spot-kick. “Moss came out and said it was a blatant penalty and apologised,” O’Neil said. “He thought it was a clear and obvious error.”

But Ten Hag disagreed with the Wolves manager and Moss’s interpretation of the incident. “It is about the referee and VAR,” he said. “I think the two players from Wolves come together and André did not interfere the action of both of them. First was the touch on the ball.”

Even without the non-award of the penalty, Wolves had more than enough chances to win a match they dominated. O’Neil said: “To come here and have 23 shots after four days of working with a group who’ve been through a tough spell with some negativity outside. The group deserve huge credit.”

Gary O'Neil (right) is shown a yellow card by referee Simon Hooper

Gary O’Neil (right) is shown a yellow card by referee Simon Hooper as he argued for a penalty. Photograph: Nick Potts/PA

Raphaël Varane scored the winner for United but their victory was far from deserved. Their midfield struggled to cope with Wolves, which can explain why the club have approached Everton over the availability of Amadou Onana.

“Our skills could be better and decision-making and in the battle we were not aggressive enough so we can do many things better but I also see many positive things,” Ten Hag said.