Last chance sa­loon for Man Utd

Sunday World - - World Of Sport -

MANCH­ESTER United man­ager Louis van Gaal urged his play­ers to put the dis­ap­point­ment of Europa League elim­i­na­tion by Liverpool be­hind them by de­feat­ing Manch­ester City in this week­end s derby.

United were knocked out of the Europa League in the last 16 af­ter a 1-1 draw at home to their archri­vals on Thurs­day con­demned them to a 3-1 ag­gre­gate de­feat.

Their exit cut off one po­ten­tial av­enue to Cham­pi­ons League foot­ball next sea­son and with United four points be­hind City, who oc­cupy the fourth and fi­nal qual­i­fy­ing berth in the Premier League, Van Gaal knows that de­feat at the Eti­had Sta­dium to­day could be fa­tal.

We have to beat Manch­ester City be­cause that is the other chance to qual­ify our­selves for the Cham­pi­ons League,” he told his post-match press con­fer­ence at Old Traf­ford.

With the FA Cup now the only com­pe­ti­tion United can win, Van Gaal was asked if the loss to Liverpool had in­creased the pres­sure on both him and his team.

The pres­sure was also to­day,” the em­bat­tled Dutch­man replied.

Manch­ester United al­ways has pres­sure. The ex­pec­ta­tions are al­ways high. The pres­sure for th­ese play­ers is al­ways very high. We can cope with that.”

Trail­ing 2-0 af­ter last week s onesided first leg at An­field, United halved Liverpool s ag­gre­gate deficit in the 32nd minute when An­thony Mar­tial lured Nathaniel Clyne into a rash foul and scored the re­sult­ing penalty.

But Philippe Coutinho re­stored Liverpool s two-goal cush­ion on the stroke of half-time with a goal that man­ager Jur­gen Klopp de­scribed as ge­nius the Brazil­ian leav­ing Guillermo Varela for dead and then dink­ing a shot past United keeper David de Gea at his near post.

The game s clos­ing stages played out to a sound­track of crow­ing chants from the away fans, but Van Gaal felt that his team had dom­i­nated to the same ex­tent that Liverpool had in the first leg.

We have played like Liverpool played in the home match with us,” he said as he presided over his 150th Euro­pean game.

I am not an­gry, I am not frus­trated. I was very proud of my play­ers. They have given ev­ery­thing.

I was very pleased the fans also recog­nised that be­cause they ap­plauded af­ter the match in spite of [the fact] we are out of the Euro League. That was re­mark­able, I think.”

While Van Gaal braced him­self for more in­quests about his United ste­ward­ship, Klopp re­mains on course to fin­ish his first sea­son at Liverpool with a tro­phy in hand.

Phil [Coutinho] had a ge­nius mo­ment, won­der­ful,” beamed the Ger­man, whose side will learn their quar­ter­fi­nal op­po­nents in Fri­day s draw.

It was bril­liant, what he did. It was the most un­ex­pected thing you could do in a sit­u­a­tion like this and it was a per­fect goal.”

Klopp, who re­vealed that skip­per Jor­dan Hen­der­son had vom­ited at half-time, be­came the first Liverpool man­ager to avoid de­feat on his first trip to Old Traf­ford since Graeme Souness in Oc­to­ber 1991.

Asked if he would like to face for­mer club Borus­sia Dort­mund 5-1 ag­gre­gate win­ners against Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur in the next round, he smiled.

Dort­mund, of course not. Why should I want the strong­est team in the tour­na­ment in the next round?” he said.

But if we go there, we try to win. I m pretty sure there s no easy games any­more.”

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