Robert Green has joked he wished Cristiano Ronaldo had got his penalty on target "because I think I would have saved it".
With Manchester United defending a 1-0 lead with just over 20 minutes to play at the Boleyn Ground on Saturday, referee Mike Dean looked to have dashed home hopes of a result when he awarded the visitors a penalty. Green was well-placed to see the handball decision go against Jonathan Spector, and admitted there were few complaints.
"He was really straining his neck and when you are stretching for the ball, you are not controlling your arm," Green said. "It was just unfortunate, but it was one of those things that happens, he didn't mean to do it and there's no point in having a go at him."
That left the spotlight on the England goalkeeper again and having saved three times from the spot this season, the home faithful would be forgiven for thinking it was too much to ask for a fourth - especially when one of the world's leading players stepped up. Cristiano Ronaldo had scored a last-gasp penalty a week ago against Everton and looked sure to do the same again. Green had other ideas, though.
"I have shown him a lot of room to my left," he said. "I then moved that way to try and throw him a dummy that I was going to go to my left. I went to my right and he has missed it with a horrible strike.
"As a professional footballer, you kick thousands of balls every week and sometimes they don't come out right. I would have liked him to hit the target because I think I would have saved it! It is one of them things that happens and for a player of that quality it is surprising."
Green had "no idea" why the Portuguese attacker, who had put United in front in the first half with a firm header that gave the goalkeeper no chance, decided to go for power rather than his usual precision. "You look at the ones he has taken before. He has stopped and looked where the keeper is going. He didn't this time. He took one against Everton at one-all in the 88th minute last week - the pressure was not any greater today. It is just something that happens."
That penalty miss gave the home side the belief they could salvage something from the contest and they duly did through late headers from substitute Anton Ferdinand and his defensive colleague Matthew Upson. "From the first minute, we created the better chances and from there, even though we went behind, we carried on going and pushing on. If you look at the chance count, we have won hands down. You can't really debate that we were the deserved winners."