Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal has described their 1-0 loss to West Brom as a “big blow” in their bid to qualify for the Champions League.
Van Gaal’s side played the majority of the match with 10 men after midfielder Juan Mata was sent off after only 27 minutes after picking up two yellow cards in the space of three minutes.
West Brom capitalised on their one man advantage when striker Salomon Rondon scored the winning goal in the second half with a powerful strike to seal a 1-0 win for Tony Pulis’ side.
The loss means United remain three points behind fourth-placed Manchester City – who have a game in hand – and manager Van Gaal feels the decisive sending off was harsh on Mata, who “never hurts a player”.
Speaking after the match, Van Gaal said: “What can I say when you send off a player like Mata. I have asked him if it’s his first red card and he said yes.
“When you do that you give the first and second yellow within five minutes. You can do it according the rules but I think the referee has to know the person doing it. I don’t think Mata has ever had bad tackles and something like that.
“You know the first one is a stupid yellow card and then you have to be aware the referee can give a second yellow card. A referee has to decide within one second but when you know the player, Mata never hurts a player.
“When you have to play 75 minutes with 10 players. I don’t think we were so uncomfortable. We had several chances to score so it’s always more difficult when you play 10 against 11. It’s always very difficult for a team to play against 11.
“The loss is a big blow because it was not necessary. When you see the first half it was not necessary I think.”