LONDON • Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer blamed the lack of clinical finishing from his forwards after Wednesday’s 3-1 Champions League defeat by Paris Saint-Germain left their hopes of qualification from Group H in the balance.
Neymar struck twice, including one in stoppage time, at Old Trafford while the Red Devils wasted several chances when the game was at 1-1 after Marcus Rashford’s equaliser.
Solskjaer’s decision not to hook Fred off before he was sent off seconds after Marquinhos scored PSG’s second was a naive mistake which cost his side.
The Brazil midfielder had been lucky to escape a red card before half-time when his headbutt on Leandro Paredes was deemed to be only a yellow card offence, but collected his second booking of the night for a foul on former United midfielder Ander Herrera.
While Solskjaer felt the dismissal was harsh, it was their profligacy – in particular Anthony Martial blasting over the bar when faced with an open goal – that allowed PSG to nab the away win on the counter.
“It was a very good game which deserved fans. With a bit more clinical finishing, we should have finished the game,” he said. “They were there for the taking.
“We had some big chances. The difference when you get to the big games is the clinical moments.”
On Fred’s headbutt and eventual sending off, Solskjaer added: “Fred shouldn’t put his head towards him, it’s either nothing or a red card, he’s a bit lucky to stay on.
“Fred has played really well. We spoke about staying calm and on your feet. The second yellow card was nowhere near a foul. Ander knows that.”
United, PSG and RB Leipzig are all level on nine points with just one group game remaining.
Fred has played really well. We spoke about staying calm and on your feet. The second yellow card was nowhere near a foul.
The French treble winners appear to have the easier route to the last 16. Last season’s Champions League finalists need a draw at home to Istanbul Basaksehir to make sure of a ninth successive campaign in the knockout phase.
Having had to deal with sack rumours since the start of the term, PSG coach Thomas Tuchel was delighted to gain some measure of revenge for their Champions League last-16 elimination to United last year, as well as the opening loss in the reverse fixture in October.
“Winning at Old Trafford is one of the biggest challenges in the world,” said the German.
“The team showed they wouldn’t accept defeat. We have taken a big step, a very hard one, but we still have to take the last step. We still need to work hard, play with the same mentality, the same fire.”
Solskjaer’s side now face a tricky test at Leipzig on Tuesday.
With a superior goal difference and a better head-to-head record, United just need to avoid defeat in Germany, but they will not play it safe at the Red Bull Arena.
“The destiny is still in our hands. If we go to Leipzig and win, we go through. We want to be in the Champions League and we need to show that next week with a good performance,” Solskjaer, who also revealed Rashford was an injury doubt for their Premier League trip to West Ham tomorrow, said.
United captain Harry Maguire added: “We’re still in control of going through to the knockout stages. We had better chances.
“Their two goals scored are scrappy goals. I feel that we deserved something. You’ve got to take your chances and not give away soft goals.”
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS