United 1 - 1 Liverpool (1-3 on agg)
Varela(Valencia) Smalling Blind Rojo(Darmian)
Lingard Mata Martial
We lost this in the first leg. If we actually showed up at Anfield, we would've won the tie because we weren't that bad in yesterday’s game. We played with some intensity during the first half but Coutinho’s superb goal just killed the game off. Liverpool’s goal came just before the half time break, a killer blow. When you go to the dressing room knowing that you’ll need to score another 3, without conceding, during the second half you do give up a bit.
I liked what I saw during the first half, in fact I started to believe that we were actually going to make it. Liverpool had some really good chances but they spurned a lot of them and then they also hit the woodwork. You do start thinking that this was going to be United’s night. BUT it was a game in which our defenders had to be spot-on. They weren’t. Liverpool got past our defence a few times, which I expected because we simply had to attack and that was bound to leave a few gaps at the back. But letting Coutinho get the ball from half-way and go one-on-one with our goalie was a dreadful mistake. Varela, a player I really like, is very much like Rafael; brilliant at times but prone to a moment of naivety. That moment just killed the spirit of all our players and those inside the stadium. For all his heroics, this might be harsh, but De Gea, I thought, should have done better with Coutinho’s goal. He left a big gap between him and the first post.
We actually had quite a few chances. Martial created many but his shooting wasn’t any good, with the exception of his penalty. Rojo and Lingard missed some decent chances and there were times when we tried to pass the ball into the net when we simply had to shoot. We do need a prolific striker.
I was a bit perplexed with van Gaal’s subs. We needed three goals and he brought on 2 full-backs and Schweinsteiger. There must’ve been some attacking options on the bench (I’m not sure who was on the bench, though.).
Our man of the match? Fellaini. He won most aerial duels and actually passed the ball around nicely.
Out of the EL we go. We only have the FA Cup to play for and maybe, just maybe, a place in the top four. But we just HAVE TO win this Sunday’s derby if we intend on getting in next season’s Champions League. Won't blog after Sunday's game, I will be camping on an island with just my phone's 3G connection. I'll make sure I follow the game somehow. Come on United!