Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has handed his backing to David De Gea after his horrible blunder gifted Lionel Messi his second goal during Manchester United’s defeat in Barcelona.
United were comprehensively outclassed at the Nou Camp as they crashed out of the Champions League at the quarter-final stage, with Barcelona’s 3-0 win on the night sealing a 4-0 aggregate triumph.
Lionel Messi’s first-half double – the first a trademark finish, the second courtesy of an awful gaffe from De Gea – plus Philippe Coutinho’s 61st-minute wonder goal gave a stark reminder of the difference between the two sides.
United have now lost three of their five games since Solskjaer was confirmed as their permanent boss.
Following last week’s 1-0 defeat at Old Trafford, United knew they needed to score against a side who had not lost in their last 30 matches at home in the Champions League.
Solskjaer felt United needed to display a fearless attacking mindset in the intimidating atmosphere, similar to the one that saw them overturn a two-goal deficit at Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16 last month.
They made an enterprising start as Marcus Rashford struck the top of the crossbar in the first few seconds but were thoroughly second best after five-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi opened the scoring after 16 minutes.
Dispossessing Ashley Young on the flank, Messi cut inside and curled beyond De Gea, who four minutes later allowed the Barcelona captain’s tame right-foot effort to slide under him.
That effectively ended the contest – while Coutinho added gloss to the scoreline with a superb strike from distance after the interval – though Solskjaer was understandably reticent to criticise a goalkeeper who has so often come to United’s aid in recent years and who made a point-blank save from Sergi Roberto on the stroke of half-time.
Solskjaer said: “That’s unfortunate with goalkeepers. When you make an error, it can get highlighted and that’ll be remembered.
“But he made some fantastic saves as well and all in all his contribution to the team is good, but sometimes that happens in football.
“The quality of their finishing was absolutely outstanding. We started well in the first 15 minutes, we felt ‘we’ve got something here’ and then in four minutes they scored two goals.
“The attitude was right, we were fighting against a good team and good players out there.”
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