Manchester United manager David Moyes has refused to criticise Ashley Young after he appeared to dive to win a penalty in the goalless Champions League draw with Real Sociedad.
Young was criticised by Moyes on Sep. 14 after he was booked for simulation against Crystal Palace in the Premier League. On that occasion the former Everton boss said: "I've always said I don't like diving. He deserved to get booked. I don't want any of my players diving.
However, he skirted around the issue of the penalty -- which was missed by Robin van Persie –and instead of backing his player, Moyes claimed that it was the choice of the referee to make.
"I thought there were some strange decisions all night and that was another one of them," he said.
"I have seen it again. The boy tugs him in the box. The referee is two yards away from it and decides to give it. He's got a penalty kick for a decision tonight. I don't know about his reputation but the referee is there and he gave it.
"The referee made decisions all night. He's the one who saw fit to award a penalty and send a player off. I thought the referee made the decision and that was the referee's choice."
There were stronger words for England international Young from two former United players acting as television pundits.
New Ireland assistant manager Roy Keane said that Young had “conned” the referee while Ray Wilkins labelled the dive “pathetic” and called on the winger to stop the theatrics.
Keane told ITV: "He's obviously played for it. If you are a Man United player and you see a player getting tugged back, you want him to go down.
"Ashley Young's obviously gone down too much over the last few months. He's been heavily criticised in England but we are in a foreign country and it's more accepted. But he's almost conned the referee there. If he scores the penalty, as a United player you would be delighted, but he's conned the referee there."
Wilkins added on Sky Sports: "This [dive] is pathetic. This is as bad for me as all these over-the-top tackles we're getting at the moment because that is a conning of the referee. I just wish Ashley would cut this out because he's a good player but he's getting a bad name."
United remain unbeaten and top of Group A following the draw, but Moyes rued his side’s profligate finishing as they failed to make the most of the opportunities they had to win the game.
He said: "I see it as a missed opportunity to take three points. We had some good chances, especially in the second half, and I felt we were worthy of getting all three.
"We are still in a strong position. If we'd won it would have given us a really strong chance of winning the group. We are still top but I do feel like we've missed a chance tonight."