Dean Smith insisted Manchester United‘s match-winning penalty against his Aston Villa side should not have been given after claiming Paul Pogba tripped over his own legs to win a spot-kick.

Villa were drawing 1-1 after Bertrand Traore’s second-half strike cancelled out Anthony Martial‘s opener when Pogba went down in the area under a challenge from midfielder Douglas Luiz. 

Michael Oliver awarded a penalty which Bruno Fernandes converted in United’s win and while Smith thought it was a penalty in real time – the Villa boss said Luiz never touched Pogba and that the referee should have consulted the video monitor.

Dean Smith (left) claims Man United's crucial penalty against Aston Villa should not have stood

Dean Smith (left) claims Man United’s crucial penalty against Aston Villa should not have stood

Paul Pogba (middle) went down under the challenge of Douglas Luiz (right) in the second-half

Paul Pogba (middle) went down under the challenge of Douglas Luiz (right) in the second-half

Smith told Sky Sports: ‘I thought it was a penalty at the time, but I looked at it after the game and saw he tripped himself. I don’t see why Michael (Oliver) couldn’t have looked at it. 

‘That’s what VAR is for isn’t it? He’s tripped himself up. There’s margins in football. I’ve seen it again, and I don’t think it’s a penalty.’

The Villa manager then told the BBC: ‘I thought Douglas Luiz got too tight with Paul Pogba but then I’ve just gone in and seen it back and I think he’s just tripped himself up. I think there’s enough doubt there to send the referee over to the screen.’

Villa fell behind at half-time when Martial headed in Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s cross but Burkina Faso winger Traore scored a close-range finish to haul Smith’s Villa level in the second period.

Michael Oliver (right) pointed to the spot but replays show Pogba may have tripped himself up

Michael Oliver (right) pointed to the spot but replays show Pogba may have tripped himself up

Bruno Fernandes netted the resulting match-winning penalty to seal a 2-1 victory for United

 Bruno Fernandes netted the resulting match-winning penalty to seal a 2-1 victory for United

But Luiz conceded the penalty on Pogba just minutes after Villa scored their equaliser. United re-took the lead and saw out the remaining half an hour to claim a vital victory as they moved level on points with league leaders Liverpool.

Smith was not happy with the way in which his side started the game but was pleased with the second-half display. 

‘First half we were miles off it. The first 15 minutes felt like a testimonial. Then they injected some pace into it and deservedly went ahead,’ he said.

‘I asked for more at half-time and we deserved to get back in the game. Our goalkeeper has had to make some good saves but they were all outside the box.’

Smith (above) was not happy with Villa's start which saw them go 1-0 down at half-time

Smith (above) was not happy with Villa’s start which saw them go 1-0 down at half-time

The loss was Villa’s first defeat on the road since the end of November and their fifth overall in 15 games, but the Midlands club still lie in sixth place on 26 points with a game in hand over the five teams above them. 

Smith claims their recent results – which include away wins at Arsenal and Leicester City along with beating Liverpool at home – show they are capable of competing at the top end of the table. 

The Villa manager added: ‘We know we’re on a good journey at the moment. We believe we’ve got five key arrivals to go with the players who are Premier League ready now.

‘This is only our second season in the division, but competing here and against Liverpool and Arsenal shows our journey is going well so far.’