Why Man Utd sent Antony on at half-time against Barcelona – Erik ten Hag explains Wout Weghorst substitution

Antony Lisandro Martinez Man Utd 2022-23
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Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag has explained the thinking behind his decision to replace Wout Weghorst with Antony at half-time versus Barcelona.
  • Red Devils trailed at the break
  • Dutch striker replaced by Brazilian winger
  • Progress secured to the last-16

WHAT HAPPENED? The Red Devils found themselves trailing a heavyweight Europa League knockout play-off round encounter at Old Trafford heading into the interval, with Robert Lewandowski converting an early penalty. United hit back after the break, though, with Antony’s introduction in place of the ineffective Weghorst proving decisive as he grabbed a 73rd-minute goal which ultimately settled the tie and saw Ten Hag’s side progress 4-3 on aggregate.

WHAT THEY SAID: Quizzed on why he made changes at half-time and why Brazil international winger Antony was the man to get the nod, Ten Hag told reporters: “I know he can deal with it (the pressure). He is brave, he is fearless, so I think what he brought second half was what we needed, running in behind and dribbles and his goal. He is brave and will go with it and when he has the opportunity he will shoot.”

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Antony had missed United’s last four games through injury, while also facing questions of his contribution to the collection cause, but delivered when it mattered most against Barca. The same could not be said for Dutch striker Weghorst, who admits that he could have few complaints at being hauled off. He said of lasting just 45 minutes against Barca: “Of course we were not satisfied, he [Ten Hag] was not satisfied. It was not the way we wanted to play. We didn’t do the things that we wanted. [Ten Hag wanted] more energy, more belief, more fight – fighting our way back into the match and creating good momentum, good atmosphere, good feeling. And I think second half, Antony came in, great of course. I think also the match-up that was needed. We knew they were vulnerable in the back, the runs in behind, that was something we couldn’t do like we wanted in the first half. So unfortunate for me today, but I think the second half was a great one for us and a really good result.”

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Antony Manchester United 2022-23

Wout Weghorst grimace Manchester United Forest 2022-23


DID YOU KNOW? Manchester United have had 19 goals scored by substitutes in all competitions this season, the most of any big five European league side in 2022-23.

WHAT NEXT? United are now through to the last-16 of the Europa League, with their next opponents set to be determined in Friday’s draw, and Ten Hag still has his side in the hunt for four pieces of silverware in the 2022-23 campaign.