Shaw insists Man Utd must do better despite Europa League progress

By Sports Desk March 18, 2021

Luke Shaw felt Manchester United had to overcome an "awful" first half to defeat Milan 1-0 and seal their place in the Europa League quarter-finals. 

The last-16 tie was finely balanced after a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford in the first leg, with the hosts looking the more likely scorers in the opening half of the return fixture after United's bright start had quickly fizzled out. 

However, Paul Pogba's introduction for the second half proved decisive, the substitute firing in the only goal of the game in the 48th minute at San Siro. 

Shaw was delighted to see Pogba back in action again after missing 10 games through injury, but acknowledged Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side must improve as they look to secure silverware this season. 

"Obviously very happy we're through, but I'll be honest – and I think the lads and the staff will agree with me – we weren't good at all, especially in the first half when we were awful," Shaw told BT Sport. 

"In the first 10 or 15 minutes we started well, kept control of the ball. But it was like a switch – we turned off and were very sloppy.  

"We kept giving away balls and bringing pressure on ourselves. We were lucky, but then second half it always helps when you have a world-class player like Paul to come on and make a difference.  

"He did that - it's brilliant to have him back. The most important thing tonight was the result and getting through to the next round, no matter how we played.  

"But we know we need to be better than tonight."

United have progressed from each of their last two knockout ties with Milan in European competition, though they needed a fine save from Dean Henderson to deny Zlatan Ibrahimovic an equaliser.

Next up is an FA Cup quarter-final against Leicester City, the Red Devils travelling to the King Power Stadium on Sunday.

"Obviously, Milan are a top side and we knew it would be hard, especially coming here. The result wasn't in our favour [from the first leg], so it's a very good win," Shaw continued.

"The most positive [thing] is we are through and have got players coming back. The squad is looking much better than it did last week, so it’s good times now. 

"Hopefully we can push on, because we've got a big game around the corner at the weekend."

After cup duty at the weekend, Shaw will join up with the England squad. He has been recalled by national team boss Gareth Southgate for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against San Marino, Albania and Poland, just reward for his outstanding form at club level.

"I'm extremely happy – it's a massive honour to get selected for your country," the left-back said.

"Obviously, I’ve been out of the fold for quite a while, I’ve had ambitions to get back into the squad. Luckily I’ve done that, so I just need to keep going."

Related items

  • Marsh to return as Australia ramp up World Cup preparations against West Indies Marsh to return as Australia ramp up World Cup preparations against West Indies

    Mitchell Marsh will return to the batting order when Australia step up their T20 World Cup preparations against West Indies on Wednesday, captain Aaron Finch has confirmed.

    Meanwhile, Marcus Stoinis is expected to return for Sunday's opening T20I against England, having joined Marsh in missing the recent tour of India.

    Marsh has not featured since an ODI outing against Zimbabwe in August after sustaining an ankle injury, leaving Cameron Green to deputise throughout last month's 2-1 series defeat in India.

    While Marsh will not bowl against the Windies, Finch believes a place at number three is his to lose, saying: "One-hundred per cent, he's made that spot his own in T20 cricket. 

    "I think the way that he played in the lead-up and then through the World Cup [last year] is so important for the way that we want to play and gives us a lot of flexibility through that middle order.

    "I think he had his second bowl yesterday and he felt really good. He pulled up well from it. So that's a really positive sign.

    "I think for the balance of the side, it's better when they [Marsh and Stoinis] are both bowling because you can get caught a little bit short if you go in with five bowlers. But we'll work that out."

    Having suffered a side strain in early September, Stoinis has not travelled to the Gold Coast for Australia's meetings with the Windies, but will join the squad in Perth for the first of three matches against England.

    Finch is hopeful over Stoinis' fitness, highlighting the role of logistics in that decision as he added: "He's at a level where we think that he'll be fully fit for that first game against England.

    "We were just conscious of the travel with a quick turnaround. It can be quite a high-risk game for some guys with some soft tissue injuries so he's just still planning and preparing there. 

    "He's such an important part of our side and the make-up of it, especially with his bowling."

    While Green performed well in India, recording scores of 62 and 52, Finch doubts whether he can force his way into Australia's 15 for the World Cup if Marsh and Stoinis stay fit.

    "I don't think so," Finch added. "It's just one of those things. He had a really good tour of India. It was good for him to get an opportunity to open the batting.

    "I think he'll get an opportunity at some point in this series. Obviously his batting is exceptional and he shows a lot with the ball. 

    "He keeps improving every time he gets an opportunity but over the next few weeks, he'll get a run, no doubt."

    Australia begin their World Cup defence against neighbours New Zealand on October 22

  • Rumour Has It: Chelsea and Liverpool monitor Milan midfielder Ismael Bennacer Rumour Has It: Chelsea and Liverpool monitor Milan midfielder Ismael Bennacer

    Chelsea and Liverpool are reportedly both interested in Milan midfielder Ismael Bennacer, who could become available at the end of this season.

    Bennacer, 24, spent time at Arsenal's academy before heading to Empoli, where he impressed enough to earn a €16million move to Milan in 2019.

    He already has 42 international caps for Algeria after debuting as an 18-year-old, and he has started in seven of Milan's eight Serie A fixtures to begin this campaign, but his contract situation could accelerate his exit from Italy.

     

    TOP STORY – PREMIER LEAGUE HEAVYWEIGHTS CIRCLE BENNACER

    Bennacer's contract expires in 2024, at the end of next season, but the more time that passes before signing an extension, the more pressure Milan will be under to cash in as opposed to letting him leave for free.

    According to Calciomercato, Milan value him at €50million as Chelsea, Liverpool and Serie A rivals Juventus all keep a close eye on his progress.

    The report says to pry him away from Milan in January would take a "sensational offer", but if Milan decide to see out the rest of the season their leverage in negotiations will be significantly weakened.

    Both Bennacer and team-mate Rafael Leao have high levels of interest from elite clubs, and Milan will likely not have the budget to hand out two big extensions.

    ROUND-UP

    – The Telegraph is reporting Manchester United will not stand in Cristiano Ronaldo's way if he wishes to leave in January.

    – According to the Daily Mail, Chelsea are interested in signing Arsenal's Gabriel Martinelli.

    – 90min is reporting Chelsea are also trying to push RB Leipzig into accepting deals for centre-back Josko Gvardiol and forward Christopher Nkunku as soon as possible.

    Paris Saint-Germain are hopeful of getting Lionel Messi to agree to a new contract with his deal set to expire at the end of this season, although they will hold off on negotiations until after the World Cup, per Mundo Deportivo.

    – January will mark 18 months remaining on Sergej Milinkovic-Savic's contract with Lazio, and according to Gazzetta dello Sport, Italy's top clubs are all keeping a close eye on the 27-year-old's availability.

  • Liverpool and Rangers set for historic battle of Britain, Barca face Inter – Champions League in Opta numbers Liverpool and Rangers set for historic battle of Britain, Barca face Inter – Champions League in Opta numbers

    Liverpool face Rangers in a battle of Britain and Barcelona will attempt to apply more pressure on Inter boss Simone Inzaghi with a Champions League victory on Tuesday.

    An army of Gers fans will travel south of the border to descend on Merseyside for a Group A clash that will give them another opportunity to secure a first point, with the Reds in second spot behind Napoli.

    Barca moved top of La Liga last weekend and Xavi's side will start their third Group C game level on points with out-of-sorts Inter after losing 2-0 to leaders Bayern Munich last month.

    Bayern will be expected to maintain their 100 per cent record at the expense of Viktoria Plzen, and Serie A table-toppers Napoli travel to Ajax looking to continue their brilliant start to the season.

    Ahead of another mouthwatering set of matches, Stats Perform trawls through the Opta data to highlight the most noteworthy facts for each contest.

    Liverpool v Rangers

    This will be the first European meeting between Liverpool and the Glasgow giants in a European competition.

    The Gers have only won one of their seven away games in England, that being a 2-1 Champions League victory at Leeds United in November 1992 courtesy of goals from Mark Hateley and Ally McCoist. They have suffered six defeats and drawn twice.

    Liverpool's last meeting with Scottish opponents in the European Cup was back in the 1980-81 campaign, winning 5-0 on aggregate against Alex Ferguson's Aberdeen (1-0 away, 4-0 home). The Reds went on to win the competition that year.

    Jurgen Klopp's side have won 13 of their past 15 home Champions League group stage matches (D1 L1), scoring 36 goals in process. Their solitary defeat was against Atalanta in November 2020

    Rangers have failed to score in their two group games so far. Indeed, only Plzen (2) and Sevilla (3) have had fewer shots on target than the Scottish club (4) in this season's first two matchdays.

    Inter v Barcelona

    Inter have won just two of their 14 European matches against Barcelona (D4 L8), a 2-1 victory in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup in January 1970 and 3-1 Champions League triumph in April 2010.

    Barca's two away wins against the Nerazzurri came 60 years apart, winning 4-2 in the Fairs Cup in September 1959 and 2-1 in the Champions League in December 2019.

    Inter have lost six UEFA Champions League matches against the Catalan giants, their most against a single opponent. Barca have only beaten Celtic (8) more times in the competition.

    Barca have lost three of their past four away Champions League group stage matches (W1), as many as in their previous 25 matches on their travels in the competition (W15 D7). Xavi is only the second manager to lose his first two away Champions League matches in charge of Barcelona, along with Louis van Gaal in 1997.

    Inter have lost their past two Champions League games at San Siro (0-2 v Liverpool and Bayern). Only once previously have they suffered three consecutive home defeats in the European Cup/UEFA Champions League (a run of three between February-September 2011).

    Bayern Munich v Viktoria Plzen

    Bayern have won all four of their European matches against Plzen, beating them twice in the 1971-72 Cup Winners' Cup and the Champions League in 2013-14.

    Plzen's two away European matches against Bayern have seen them concede at least five goals on each occasion, losing 6-1 in September 1971 in the Cup Winners' Cup and 5-0 in the Champions League nine years ago.

    Bayern are out to record three wins at the start of a Champions League campaign for a fourth consecutive season. In their opening three games in the previous three seasons and their two games this year, they have won all 11 matches by an aggregate score of 41-7.

    Plzen have conceded seven goals in their two Champions League games this season and only kept one clean sheet in their 20 matches in the competition.

    Leroy Sane has been directly involved in 14 goals in his past 11 Champions League starts for Bayern (8 goals, 6 assists). The winger could become only the second player to score in Bayern's first three Champions League games in a season, with Robert Lewandowski (in 2019-20 and 2021-22) being the other.

    Ajax v Napoli

    Napoli have never won away from home in the Netherlands (D2 L3) in any European competition.

    Ajax have failed to win any of their past 11 home European matches against Italian opposition (D6 L5) since winning 2-1 against Roma in this competition in December 2002.

    Napoli will be looking to win their first three Champions League group stage games for the first time. They are unbeaten in eight matches in the group stage of the competition (W5 D3).

    Ajax have won their past four home games in the group stage of the Champions League, scoring four goals in each of the previous three (4-0 v Borussia Dortmund, 4-2 v Sporting CP and 4-0 v Rangers).

    Napoli are the top scoring side in the Champions League this season with seven goals. Luciano Spalletti's side have had more shots (43) and shots on target (19) than any other team.

    Other fixtures:

    Marseille v Sporting CP

    6 - Marseille have lost six of their eight European Cup/Champions League matches against Portuguese opponents (W1 D1).

    16 - Marseille have lost 16 of their past 17 Champions League matches (W1), failing to score in 11 matches in this run, including both games this season.

    Porto v Bayer Leverkusen

    7 - Porto have won seven of their eight home Champions League games against German opposition (D1), winning five in a row.

    2 - Leverkusen have only won two of their past 13 away matches in the Champions League (D5 L6), with three of the previous four ending in defeats without scoring.

    Club Brugge v Atletico Madrid

    3 - Brugge are unbeaten in all three home meetings with Atleti in European competition (W2 D1).

    7 - Atleti have never won a European match against a Belgium club in seven attempts (five away, two neutral). They have played more major European games on Belgian soil without winning than in any other country.

    Eintracht Frankfurt v Tottenham

    4 - Tottenham have lost their past four Champions League matches against German opposition by an aggregate score of 14-3, losing twice to Bayern Munich (2-7 and 1-3) and twice to RB Leipzig (0-1 and 0-3).

    3 - Eintracht have won three consecutive European games against English teams (one versus Arsenal, two v West Ham), as many as in their first 14.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.