Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says that Manchester United must believe in their ability to fight back after losing 3-1 to neighbours Manchester City in the first leg of the League Cup semi-final.
It’s a difficult task for United to turn things around as they look to turn around the two-goal deficit when they go to the Etihad. History’s not on their side, with the last 15 teams to win away in the first leg of the League Cup semis have all made it through.
Pep Guardiola’s men put in a very strong first-half performance at Old Trafford, going on to record their first-ever cup victory there, with goals from Bernardo Silva and Riyad Mahrez before an own goal from Andreas Pereira put them three ahead before the break.
“From their first goal and especially the second we struggled to get to grips with them,” Solskjaer told Sky Sports after the match.
“A good reaction second half, but first half until they scored it is was back and forth. We didn’t cope with the setback well enough.
“We didn’t deal with their system well enough, we know they can play that way. They played that way last season and beat Chelsea 5-0.
“First goal there is nothing we can do, second is sloppy and the third we just didn’t recover.”
City eased off the gas after the break and United enjoyed more possession but they did not seriously threaten until Marcus Rashford pulled one back 20 minutes from time.
The Red Devils captain for the night finished expertly after De Bruyne had given the ball away.
Claudio Bravo also had an awkward moment when he spilled a long-range shot from Rashford to concede a corner but United could not score again.
The game ended 3-1 with Rashford’s goal ensuring the tie was just about still alive ahead of the second leg in three weeks’ time.
Solskjaer praised his team’s second-half performance and is hoping for more of the same when they travel to the Etihad for the second leg.
He cited the PSG second-leg comeback in the Champions League last season, the 3-1 win in Paris arguably his finest night as a manager.
“With Matic and his experience (coming on in the second half) he had more presence,” he added.
“It was more about wanting the ball and believing, passing the ball. Someone needed to take responsibility. We’ve shown before we have been down from a home tie and turned it around.
“PSG is the latest example and we have to believe that we can put on a performance.
“It was a decision late on, who was fit, but it was no excuse. We have the players we have. We put a team out believing we could get a result.”
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