Saturday 24 August 2019

'At times it felt like a proper Manchester United team' - Solskjaer upbeat despite first leg defeat

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer applauds the fans at the end of the UEFA Champions League quarter final, first leg match at Old Trafford, Manchester. Nick Potts/PA Wire
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer applauds the fans at the end of the UEFA Champions League quarter final, first leg match at Old Trafford, Manchester. Nick Potts/PA Wire

Barcelona will take a 1-0 lead over Manchester United into next week's second leg of their Champions League quarter-final after a 12th-minute Luke Shaw own goal gave them victory at Old Trafford on Wednesday.

Sergio Busquets found Lionel Messi with a clever ball into the area and the Argentine carved out space on the left to deliver a lofted cross to Luis Suarez at the back post.

The Uruguayan's header deflected off the shoulder of a scrambling Shaw and beat David De Gea to give the visitors the lead and although the linesman initially flagged for offside, the goal was given after a VAR video review.

United's best chance of the first half fell to Diogo Dalot but the Portuguese made a mess of a fine Marcus Rashford cross, heading harmlessly across the goal from close-range.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's team had struggled to get a foothold in the game during the opening 45 minutes but they were much improved after the break, applying plenty of pressure without creating any clear chances.

Barcelona could have added a second had Suarez not fired into the side-netting from a promising position after a clever through ball from Nelson Semedo.

Barcelona have not lost at home in the Champions League since 2013 but Solskjaer feels they can approach the second leg with optimism.

"There are pluses and negatives. I thought we started sloppy," he told BT Sport.

"After their goal we settled, we played well, we had some very good performances from some individuals in midfield.

"At times it felt like a proper Manchester United team, the crowd was behind us.

"We're still in this tie. We go there (to Barcelona) with work to be done. We'll go there with the knowledge we can score."

Chris Smalling expressed disappointment that United could not pull a goal back, having settled after falling behind.

"For large spells we made it difficult for them but unfortunately we couldn't get the goal because we created a lot of good chances," Smalling told BT Sport.

"We had a little spell in the first half where we went after them but then we started to look a little bit nervy.

"I think from half-time we got at them, really pressed them and to be honest we caused them so many problems."

Scott McTominay impressed in midfield for United and believes Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side can still turn the tie around in Barcelona.

"I thought in the first 10-15 minutes we showed them far too much respect," he told BT Sport.

"After that we adapted really well and started to take control of the game and looked the better side.

"We're Manchester United, you can never write us off.

"They've got some top-class players but so do we and we're going to showcase that in the second leg at the Nou Camp."

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