Belfast Telegraph

Mountains are there to be climbed: Solskjaer optimistic despite first United defeat

 

Manchester United midfielder Ander Herrera
Manchester United midfielder Ander Herrera

By Simon Peach

Manchester United midfielder Ander Herrera insists the club is "building something good" despite their loss to Paris Saint-Germain in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.

An even game was broken in the second half when Presnel Kimpembe volleyed home a corner, while France teen sensation Kylian Mbappe ensured PSG would take a two-goal lead back to Paris in three weeks' time.

To make matters worse for United, if they are to overcome a mountain at the Parc des Princes in the second leg, they will have to do it without talismanic midfielder Paul Pogba after he was sent off late on.

However, Herrera insists they aren't getting too down on themselves after the defeat at Old Trafford and believes they've seen further confirmation that they're heading in the right direction.

"The game was tight until the corner. After the first goal everything changed," insisted the Spaniard.

"The game was under control. The game could have finished 0-0 if they didn't score from the corner. They then played counter-attack because they have very quick players.

"I think we lost some pace (when Antony Martial and Jesse Lingard went off injured in the first half) but won some combination with Alexis Sanchez and Juan Mata.

"We were pressing okay and they were not feeling good with the ball.

"We are all optimistic and positive - we are building something good.

"Today is going to be a tough night and tomorrow is going to be tough day. We are going to fight for the top four and the FA Cup."

Meanwhile, caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer refused to be drawn into making excuses for the defeat.

Both Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial had to be withdrawn after picking up knocks and their replacements, Sanchez and Mata, were not like for like replacements.

However, like Herrera, the manager was confident that the performance showed signs they are progressing and learning.

"They had the momentum after the first goal and controlled the game," said Solskjaer.

"You could see that we hadn't played at this level for a while and we will have to learn.

"It was an experience that can go either way, it's not going to be a season defining one, it's one we have to learn from.

"You can't say (injuries are) a reason, we had quality players to come on but Lingard and Martial give us something and let's hope they are not too serious. They are muscle injuries, we have to wait a couple of days."

Despite carrying the deficit into the second leg, Solskjaer remained upbeat about his side's chances of turning the tie around, insisting that they wouldn't go to Paris simply to make up the numbers.

"Mountains are there to be climbed, you can't lay down and say this is over," Solskjaer demanded. "We will go there, play our game and improve from today. Today is a reality check for us."

Belfast Telegraph

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