Football

Solskjaer rues Manchester United's sluggish start against RB Leipzig

Man United crash out of the Champions League after another sluggish start

Manchester United have only themselves to blame for their Champions League exit following a 3-2 loss at RB Leipzig yesterday morning (Singapore time), launching their comeback far too late, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said.

United needed only a point from their final Group H game to advance to the knockout stage but left themselves with a mountain to climb after falling three goals behind against Leipzig.

Manchester City loanee Angelino and Amadou Haidara put the German side 2-0 up after just 13 minutes before substitute Justin Kluivert made it 3-0 shortly after Bruno Fernandes' free-kick rattled off the crossbar.

"We started too late. Great spirit and comeback again," Solskjaer said.

"It's different to the Premier League, you can't give a team a three-goal lead and expect to come back," he added, after United fought back to win their last two English Premier League games against Southampton and West Ham United.

Leipzig were leading 3-0 until an 80th-minute penalty from Fernandes and an own goal by Ibrahima Konate two minutes later gave them hope.

"We were unlucky towards the end and you almost thought it was in at the last minute there," Solskjaer said of a stoppage-time save by Leipzig goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi.

"Of course, you can't say we were good enough, we weren't. Today we were close but we knew we had to defend crosses and balls into the box and we just couldn't clear them."

Solskjaer's former United teammate Paul Scholes savaged goalkeeper David de Gea and captain Harry Maguire for their roles in Kluivert's winner.

He said on BT Sport: "David de Gea bottles it here (for the third goal), he is scared of getting himself hurt. It (the cross) should never go across the box like that.

"As a goalkeeper, come out and make yourself as big as you can. You might get smashed in the face and you might get injured, but he turns his back away. He actually makes himself smaller, which is criminal for such an experienced goalkeeper."

Scholes also criticised Maguire's defending, questioned his mobility for the goal, calling him "wooden" and "very stiff".

The United legend and his former teammate Rio Ferdinand both also felt Solskjaer should have ditched his three-man central defence for a flat back-four earlier, rather than at half-time.

Ferdinand said on BT Sport: "I think the difference is when they've played three at the back before, they've been up against people. They've had strikers up against them so you know exactly who is up against them... it's me against you...

"The way Julian Nagelsmann set his team up, they were chasing shadows because people were being asked questions.

"Do I go and mark him or not? You've got Aaron Wan-Bissaka who didn't have someone right up against him...

"After 20 minutes, change two players now. Change from three at the back, definitely, to go with four so you've got an extra man in midfield."

However, fellow ex-United man Phil Neville suggested that there was an agenda against Solskjaer, saying on the BBC: "I think there is an awful narrative - the minute United lose a game, it seems a disaster. It's not a disaster, it's a disappointment...

"The narrative inside the club is far different from outside where there seems to be a total witch hunt to get this boy out of a job."

One individual who has constantly tried to portray the Norwegian as out of his depth is Paul Pogba's agent Mino Raiola, who stole the spotlight on the eve on the match, declaring that his client's time at Old Trafford "is over" as he took potshots at Solskjaer.

The United boss responded, saying: "As soon as Paul's agent realises this is a team sport and we work together, the better, and that's maybe the last thing I'll say on that. What we speak about in the background is something.

"I'm not going to talk about Paul's agent any more."

 * Qualified for last 16 **Dropped to Europa League

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