‘I had no choice’ - Erik ten Hag explains baffling Man Utd substitutions before conceding two late goals due to ‘bad luck’
- Man Utd threw away a 2-0 lead
- Sevilla came back with two late goals
- Ten Hag explains bizarre substitutions
WHAT HAPPENED? Sevilla scripted a sensational comeback at Old Trafford on Thursday, courtesy of two late own goals from Tyrell Malacia and Harry Maguire, to frustrate the Red Devils. Their manager Ten Hag has also come under scrutiny for his choice of substitutions as after Raphael Varane's forced withdrawal, the Dutch manager took off Bruno Fernandes, Jadon Sancho and Anthony Martial for Christian Eriksen, Anthony Elanga and Wout Weghorst around the hour with United 2-0 up.
Antony, who was one of the best players on the pitch, also made way in the 81st minute for Facundo Pellistri which completed the quota of substitutions, leaving the manager without any option when Lisandro Martinez fell to the ground, injuring his lower limb.
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WHAT THEY SAID: However, when questioned, Ten Hag fiercely defended his choice and timing of the changes: "I had to make them. There was no other way. Rapha was injured, that was the first I had to make. And then Anthony Martial, first start after a long period, so we had to make him on the 60. Then Bruno: I got the warning from the refs, he was short before a second booking and the same for Antony dos Santos. So I had to make the subs, I had no other choice.
"But still we controlled the game. Still we had to score the third goal. It was a good action from Pelle and Ty has a big chance for 3-0 in 81st minute. And then the last 10 minute of the game everything was against us. We have to be smarter, we switch off for the first goal, then we get the injury of Licha (Martinez), another bad luck. Both goals against, both deflected, what can you do? Sometimes you have bad days and bad luck. Tonight was not our night," he further added.
THE BIGGER PICTURE: After being held to a draw, United have their task cut out ahead of the second leg in Spain next week. Although Ten Hag assured that Martinez was "calm" after his injury, the Argentine remains a serious doubt for the return leg. Moreover, Varane and Marcus Rashford are also doubts following their respective muscle injuries which means a depleted United have all to do in unfamiliar territory to survive in the Europa League.
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WHAT NEXT? Manchester United will take on Nottingham Forest in the Premier League on Sunday before they travel to Sevilla to play the return leg of the Europa League quarter-final next Thursday.