Champions League lessons often come at a hefty price and Chris Smalling believes Manchester United paid the ultimate cost for not shutting up shop after Patrice Evra had given the Reds the lead over Bayern Munich at Allianz Arena.
The 24-year-old was one of the standout performers in a first-half display of resolute defending against the reigning European champions and tournament favourites, which gave the Reds the platform to press on in the second half, and Evra got the all-important goal after 57 minutes.
However, concentration dipped and Bayern pounced, and United's exit from the tournament and current league position means the Reds seem set to be absent from the Champions League for well over a year, and it hurts.
"It was disappointing," Chris told MUTV. "For large parts of the game we dealt with all of the crosses and to concede so soon after scoring, from a cross, having defended so well as a team, was really disappointing. It gave them the initiative going forward after that.
"If we could have just seen it out for five or 10 minutes and let the game settle down they would have been chasing it. We felt that as a team we were very compact and the tactics were working well. But it goes out the window when you concede and it gave them that added drive they needed."
David Moyes' men had a clear game-plan to frustrate Bayern and then strike on the break. But as well as ruing those crucial lapses in focus, Smalling felt the Reds could have been more ruthless in front of goal.
"We went in at half-time feeling that we'd worked well and filled the spaces. They had a lot of the ball but we had the better chances over the two games with a few one-on-ones," he added. "We felt very solid and felt comfortable as they didn't create too many clear chances. We were always thinking about staying compact and giving no goals away. We knew we'd get a chance and we took it but we didn't count for them scoring so soon after."
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