Ten Hag: It was Champions League level
Erik ten Hag felt his side dominated an elite-level game after Manchester United's 2-2 draw with Barcelona at the Nou Camp.
The Reds went toe-to-toe with La Liga's leaders during a breathless match that leaves this Europa League play-off tie nicely poised ahead of the Old Trafford return in seven days' time.
Here's what Ten Hag had to say to BT Sport, MUTV and assembled journalists in his post-match press conference following the full-time whistle in Catalonia...
AN ENJOYABLE AFFAIR
“I think we dictated the game. Apart from maybe 15 minutes of the first half, we had some difficulties, but for the rest, we dictated the game and we outplayed [them], so many chances, so I was a little bit disappointed that in half-time it was 0-0 because we should have scored. The opportunities they had, we created by ourselves. But I think it was a great game, two attacking teams, I think it was really Champions League [level] and even more than that. So I really enjoyed the game a lot. In the end, 2-2, and we have to finish it at Old Trafford.”
A DEBATABLE DECISION
“We have a lot of character and determination in this team. The belief, we had to score the first goal, and the meaning of the first goal is so important and that’s what we didn’t do. Then, we turn around when we were down, and then also I think the refereeing had a big influence in this game. I think it was a clear foul on Rashy. You can discuss if it’s in or outside the box, but then [if it's outside] it’s a red card, because he was one-on-one with the keeper. So it’s a big influence, not only on this game, but in this round. It can’t be, the referee can’t make such a mistake. I asked the referee why. So he said it was outside the box and it was no foul. I said I think the linesman and the referee are in a very good position to see. I think we have the VAR. So I think it’s not good and was a really bad decision. I can’t understand – maybe they were impressed by the pressure Barcelona made but that can’t be at the highest European level.”
WEGHORST AN OPTION IN THE MIDDLE
“It’s not only about Wout, but he did well in that position, and I know he can be, but it gives us a lot of variation, but also you know I want Jadon and Bruno coming in the half spaces, get them on the ball and make runs from both from deep. The full-backs joining in made a lot of variation and we had a lot of opportunities and we should have won this game.”
WE’RE NOT RELIANT ON RASHFORD
“He is so unstoppable at this moment, such a high belief for scoring goals, which we are happy with of course. But credit to the team as they get him every time in the right position. As I said before, we have other players who can score – Bruno, Jadon can score as well. Wout, of course, and they will score. In the end, it doesn’t matter who scores but we have to score, as you say, in such a game when you create five, six or seven 100 per cent chances. You have to finish them more than that so it’s quite clear.”
RECOVERY IS KEY
“That’s why also we have to leave as soon as possible. Fly back to Manchester tonight, get back, get that sleep, eat well and tomorrow do recovery. Then get ready for Leicester. I think we are in a rhythm from 27 December, maybe previously before Christmas already and, every third or fourth day, there is a game. We really enjoy it and we progress from game to game. We have to keep the progress going.”
THOUGHTS ON THE FOXES
“I can’t think about that [the second leg] in this moment. I think about Leicester, it’s all about Leicester. It’s a big game again and they are in good shape. They have two wins in a row so I know it’s going to be a tough game but we have to be ready. If we are ready we have a good chance to win.”