Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Ten Hag serves up bizarre response to Man Utd question that prompts quick explanation from Scholes

Man Utd manager Erik ten Hag

Erik ten Hag claimed getting the win against Omonia Nicosia was not the most important thing for Man Utd, and Paul Scholes was quick to offer an explanation about the claim.

Manchester United left it late, but Scott McTominay’s injury time strike was enough to spare their blushes against Cypriot side Omonia Nicosia.

United hammered up against a brick wall for much of the contest. When they did find a way through from their 34 shots, goalkeeper Francis Uzoho was on hand to repel everything that came his way.

With Real Sociedad cruising to their fourth win from four in Group E’s other contest, Man Utd needed three points to keep their realistic hopes of finishing top and avoiding a play-off against a Champions League dropout alive.

With hope fading, substitute McTominay was on hand to fire home from close range. The Scot’s goal owed a lot to the quick feet of Jadon Sancho who fashioned a shooting opportunity out of nothing down the left.

Sancho’s shot was blocked – like many of United’s other efforts on the night – though the deflection fell kindly for McTominay who powered home.

Speaking to BT Sport after the match, Ten Hag was asked if the three points were the most important thing.

Lack of goals frustrates Ten Hag

“No,” he bluntly replied. “Football is about scoring goals and we create so many chances but the ball went in only one time. But it was enough for the time and we’re happy with that.”

On making his side more clinical in front of goal, Ten Hag added: “They did, and that’s why they scored.

“[The players] have to keep patient, keeping coming in the right positions and keep creating chances.

“We didn’t allow the opponent to come out so I think they did well. Only one thing about football and that’s you have to score.

“This game had to be three or four nil.”

When asked directly if it’s a concern his side missed so many chances, he replied: “No, I know how football is.

“We score already so many goals, in every game we score.

“I have the faith that we will continue that. We have players [who can score]… I hope we save the goals for next week.”

On tightening the midfield up who gave Omonia a handful of rare chances to attack late in the first half, the Dutchman said: “I think in the last 10 minutes. We [spoke] about that at half-time, keep the focus.

“When you play against an opponent who are so compact and you don’t score, you get impatient.

“That’s what we did, we ran out of position, we forced it. I don’t call it sloppy but we lose the ball and then they can break.

“We have to avoid [that], but it only happened for 10 minutes so I have to compliment my team.”

Scholes explains Ten Hag comment

When asked about Ten Hag saying winning isn’t the most important thing, BT Sport pundit Paul Scholes suggested his response was down to his frustration at the winning margin being so fine.

“I think he’s frustrated,” said Scholes. “He’s expecting a four or five nil game like everyone else and he’s frustrated with his players.

“It’s ok having a great performance, keeping the ball well and creating chances. But if you don’t score goals you don’t win games.”

Man Utd finished the night with 34 shots of which 13 were on target. Regardless, the narrow 1-0 win does keep their hopes of finishing top and avoiding a play-off with a UCL dropout alive.

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