Jose Mourinho believes Manchester United’s 1-1 Europa League draw was the best result possible on such a poor pitch.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan put away Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s first-half pull-back for the opening goal but Aleksandr Bukharov made it interesting with a well-taken equaliser after the break.
United boss Mourinho had been unhappy with the Olimp-2 Stadium pitch before kick-off but was happy to settle for a draw with an away goal ahead of next week’s return leg at Old Trafford.
He told BT Sport: “It was a very good performance in relation to the conditions. It was impossible to play better. It was impossible to have the ball, impossible to play a passing game, so we played to do what the game demanded from us, and we played well.
“We made one defensive mistake but we coped with the intensity and their direct game and the result is what we could expect, an open result for the second leg with a little advantage for us.
“It’s done, no injuries, and it was one more experience for all of us as our football life is full of experiences and this was a new one for us.
“I remember when I was a kid playing some matches in Portugal… League Two… amateurs… and it was a real fight, but to see my players coping with this is a good feeling for me.”
Armenian goalscorer Mkhitaryan was also relieved to come through the tie unscathed.
“We’ve tried to win today and maybe we were not very focused at the beginning of the second half,” he said. “I think we played as well as we could on this pitch.
“I don’t even want to speak about this pitch because for both sides it was an awful thing.
“It was not a very interesting game but we tried to do everything we could.”
On Bukharov’s leveller, he added: “That’s football – you have to be ready for anything.
“If you score and you’re leading 1-0 you have to be ready, so we conceded the goal and I think we made a mistake there.
“We don’t want to think about that because there will be a second game that is more important than this one.”