Solskjaer sees hope for second leg despite first-half demolition by Man City

By Sports Desk January 07, 2020

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is hoping for another famous comeback in the EFL Cup semi-finals despite admitting Manchester United players shirked their responsibilities in the 3-1 defeat to Manchester City.

Pep Guardiola's side were torn apart in the first half of United's 2-1 Premier League win at the Etihad Stadium last month, but the tables were turned in a one-sided encounter at Old Trafford on Tuesday.

Bernardo Silva, Riyad Mahrez and an Andreas Pereira own goal put City 3-0 up at half-time as United wilted against their local rivals.

Marcus Rashford got a goal back in the second half as City eased back to conserve fitness, leaving Solskjaer to hold out hope of the kind of comeback they produced against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League last season when they won 3-1 in the second leg after losing 2-0 at home.

"From their first goal, especially from their second goal, we struggled to get to grips with them," he told Sky Sports.

"Good reaction second half, that's more like it, but first half, until they scored, it was there and back, there and back, no one really dominated. After they scored, we didn't cope with that setback well enough.

"We didn't deal with [their tactics] well enough. We know that they can play that way, we've seen them do it a few times, I went to see them last year against Chelsea play that way and win 5-0 at the Etihad, so that's not a surprise.

"They're good at what they're doing. The first goal, there's nothing we can do about it; second goal, it's a bit sloppy, and the third, we just didn't recover from those goals.

"At half-time, we could get into their heads a little bit and we did well second half.

"We've shown before that we've been down from a home tie and turned it around, last year against PSG is the latest example for us, so we've just got to believe when we go to the Etihad and hope we can put a performance on."

Solskjaer brought on Nemanja Matic for the anonymous Jesse Lingard at half-time in an effort to get better control against a City side who played without a recognised centre-forward.

The United boss felt too many of his players were not taking enough responsibility on the ball before Matic was introduced.

"With Nemanja, with his experience, [we had] more presence, but it was more about wanting the ball, believing, taking the ball, passing forward - the first half was too many square and back passes," he said.

"We just passed the buck to the next one. Someone needed to take responsibility and we did that second half."

Solskjaer's selection was influenced by injuries, with Harry Maguire unavailable after getting a knock against Wolves, Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay sidelined and Anthony Martial fit enough only to appear as a substitute.

"It was a decision made very late on in terms of who was fit and who wasn't, but that's no excuse," Solskjaer said. "We have the players we have, and we put a team out there believing we could get a result."

Related items

  • Rumour Has It: Man City to offer two players for Koulibaly, Liverpool won't pursue Thiago Rumour Has It: Man City to offer two players for Koulibaly, Liverpool won't pursue Thiago

    Manchester City are reportedly ready to give up two players in a deal for Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly.

    Koulibaly, 29, has regularly been linked with a move from Naples, with several of Europe's biggest clubs apparently keen to land the centre-back.

    And City may know who they are ready to offer up as part of a deal.

     

    TOP STORY – MAN CITY PREPARED TO GIVE UP TWO PLAYERS FOR KOULIBALY

    Manchester City could use Nicolas Otamendi and Oleksandr Zinchenko in a deal for Napoli star Koulibaly, according to The Sun.

    The report says the Serie A club have already contacted City about Otamendi and Zinchenko.

    Napoli are said to want €100million for Koulibaly, who has also been linked to Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal.

    ROUND-UP

    - Liverpool have been repeatedly linked with a move for Bayern Munich midfielder Thiago Alcantara over recent weeks. However, ESPN reports the Premier League champions will not pursue a deal for the former Barcelona star.

    - Speculation around Eric Garcia's future continues. According to Mundo Deportivo, the Manchester City defender is motivated to return to Barcelona, but the Premier League club have offered the 19-year-old a bumper contract, with his current deal expiring in 2022.

    - Jonathan Ikone is seemingly attracting some interest. Le 10 Sport reports Chelsea and Inter are interested in the Lille forward. Ikone scored three goals and provided six assists in 28 Ligue 1 games in 2019-20.

    - Will Roma get a deal done for Chris Smalling? Gianluca Di Marzio says Roma are in negotiations with Manchester United to make the defender's move permanent. The report says Roma's offer of €3m (£2.7m) to extend the loan for a season before a €15m (£13.4m) offer to make the move permanent has been deemed too low.

    - Mesut Ozil wants to see out his contract at Arsenal, with his deal expiring in 2021. The Sun reports the attacker has told friends he will only consider playing in MLS or the Turkish Super Lig after he leaves Arsenal.

    - Paris Saint-Germain could be looking to strengthen while weakening one of their Ligue 1 rivals. Foot Mercato reports PSG are interested in Lyon and France defender Leo Dubois.

  • Facing Atalanta like going to the dentist – Sarri agrees with Guardiola Facing Atalanta like going to the dentist – Sarri agrees with Guardiola

    Juventus coach Maurizio Sarri agreed with Pep Guardiola's assessment that facing Atalanta was "like going to the dentist".

    Sarri's side face a huge test on Saturday when they host Atalanta, who are third in Serie A and nine points behind leaders Juve with seven games remaining.

    Manchester City manager Guardiola compared playing Atalanta to going to the dentist, having beaten and drawn with the Italian side in the Champions League group stage.

    Sarri agreed with Guardiola's description as he expects a difficult clash against Gian Piero Gasperini's men.

    "It's an important moment of the season. Atalanta are not a surprise. They have done really well throughout the season, particularly away from home," he told a news conference. 

    "They are a really difficult opponent. Atalanta have been a difficult opponent for everyone for a long time now.

    "Guardiola gave the best description of them. It's like going to the dentist. You can end up well but you feel the pain. It's a really difficult team to face."

    Sarri will come up against Guardiola in the Champions League quarter-finals if their respective teams get through their last-16 ties.

    But the Italian said his focus was on Serie A before a clash with Lyon, who won the first leg of their tie 1-0 in France.

    "I am not interested. We have only one goal now – the league. And after the league we have Lyon," Sarri said.

    "It's really far away now so we don't have to waste any energy [thinking about it]."

  • Zidane hails 'phenomenal' Courtois after another clean sheet Zidane hails 'phenomenal' Courtois after another clean sheet

    Zinedine Zidane praised the "phenomenal" Thibaut Courtois after Real Madrid took another step towards the LaLiga title with a win over Deportivo Alaves.

    Madrid kept a clean sheet for the fifth straight game, recording a 2-0 win on Friday to move four points clear of rivals Barcelona with three games remaining.

    Zidane lauded Courtois, who made four saves in Madrid's win as Karim Benzema netted a penalty before Marco Asensio's second-half goal.

    "He has a very big influence. He is our goalkeeper, what he is doing every game is phenomenal," Madrid coach Zidane told a news conference, via AS.

    "It is a matter for everyone when it comes to defending … today, he [Courtois] has been good for us with two or three stops, and then the strength of the entire team.

    "We have to continue like this."

    Madrid scored a penalty for the third straight game, while the VAR was needed to award Asensio's goal after it was initially ruled out due to an offside decision against Benzema.

    As another clean sheet helped Madrid, Zidane said he was happy with his team, who are away to Granada on Monday.

    "I'm not worried because the important thing is to win matches," he said.

    "We didn't score four or five goals, but because there is an opponent who defends. We scored two goals, one very beautiful in play.

    "I am happy and calm with what we are doing."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.