Champions League

LVG warns careless United

2015-10-01 08:11
Juan Mata (Getty Images)

Manchester - Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal warned of danger ahead for his team in the Champions League if they do not learn to close out games more convincingly.

Juan Mata scored a penalty and set up a goal for Chris Smalling as United came from behind to beat Wolfsburg 2-1 at Old Trafford on Wednesday and claim their first win in Group B after an opening loss to PSV Eindhoven.

But United endured several nervy moments before the final whistle, with Andre Schuerrle and Ricardo Rodriguez going close, and Van Gaal was dismayed by his side's momentary loss of defensive wherewithal.

"After (Smalling's goal) it was not good anymore and that is remarkable because we've kept the ball in our possession very well in the last five, six matches," said the Dutchman, whose side have won their last four games.

"I think we have given a lot in the first half to come back in the game, and (there is) also the culmination of matches of the last weeks, because I cannot understand that we gave the ball away so easily.

"I think the team spirit kept us in the match."

He added: "We have to improve a lot for Manchester United to be at the top of Europe.

"Today (Wednesday) we have won this game, but it could be also in a better way. I think that we deserved to win, because we created much more chances than Wolfsburg, when you count all the chances."

Daniel Caligiuri put Wolfsburg ahead in the fourth minute, after United right-back Antonio Valencia failed to step up and play him offside, but then conceded the penalty when Mata's cross struck his outstretched hand.

Mata scored the penalty, teed up Smalling's 53rd-minute winner with a delightful improvised flick and proved a constant source of invention, but Van Gaal was reluctant to join in with praise of the Spaniard's display.

"I don't speak about individual performances, but I have seen Mata playing better than today," he said.

Van Gaal was more forthcoming with plaudits about Smalling, whose neatly taken goal capped another commanding performance at centre-back.

"He played a very good match, especially defensively," the United manager told his post-game press conference.

"The way he scored the goal was outstanding, especially for a defender and especially for him because he is not doing that so much. Now he has the confidence to do that. I'm very pleased with his performance."

Mata revealed after the game that he had replaced Wayne Rooney - who spooned a glorious first-half chance over the bar - as first-choice penalty-taker and Van Gaal confirmed that it had been his decision.

"I take all the decisions," he said when asked by a journalist if he had discussed the matter with Rooney.

"I communicate always with my players. Everybody knows that, except you."


What To Read Next


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

Tuesday, 13 February 2018
Basel v Manchester City, TBA 21:45
Juventus v Tottenham Hotspur, TBA 21:45
Wednesday, 14 February 2018
Real Madrid v PSG, TBA 21:45
Porto v Liverpool, TBA 21:45
Tuesday, 20 February 2018
Chelsea v Barcelona, TBA 21:45
Bayern Munchen v Besiktas, TBA 21:45
Wednesday, 21 February 2018
Shakhtar Donetsk v Roma, TBA 21:45
Sevilla v Manchester United, TBA 21:45
Tuesday, 06 March 2018
PSG v Real Madrid, TBA 21:45
Liverpool v Porto, TBA 21:45
Wednesday, 07 March 2018
Manchester City v Basel, TBA 21:45
Tottenham Hotspur v Juventus, TBA 21:45
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Previous Results

Date Home Team Result Away Team

Which English Premier League club will progress furthest in this season's Champions League?

Love 2 Meet
English Premiership flutter

Take Sport24's "expert" tips at your peril...

Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter


The 2017/18 Absa Premiership season is under way. Can Bidvest Wits defend their title? Will Soweto giants Kaizer Chiefs or Orlando Pirates emerge victorious? Or will the bookies' favourites, Mamelodi Sundowns, taste success for a record eighth time? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.