The Manchester contradiction, City wins Champions League group, United out
Manchester United is eliminated from the Champions League and will play Europa League while Manchester City used a comeback in the last 15 minutes of the game to beat the Gladbach and clinched group’s first place on Sterling’s 21st birthday. the England international scored two gals and gave an assist.
Here are the reactions from both Manchester coaches and obviously their analysis quite differ.
Coach Man Utd van Gaal on the group stage exit:
“I think it is a crazy match. We scored the goals, then they are cancelling [out our] goals. Still we had chances, but they have also chances. When we scored, they scored after two minutes again. Also the winning goal was two minutes after we had equalised, so we had the chance to win I think. We fought for the win, but with ten men at the end [after injuries] we couldn’t do more than what we have done. You can say that we were the favourites, but we were in a very tight group, and all the results are like that. It is always 1-0 or 2-1. You remember the first match against PSV when there were decisions of the referee, and also in this game, decisions of the referee that were not positive for us. When it is a tight group it can happen.
You don’t know that [how much damage this result does] because when you see the circumstances in which we have to play the match, with a lot of injuries and in the last 15 minutes we had to play with 10 players [with Smalling struggling with an injury], you have to analyse that also. The circumstances were not very good for Manchester United to play this game, but that’s difficult to understand because the fans and the players but also the manager want to win every game. It’s not like that – in sport you can lose also. Of course it’s a step backwards but you have seen also a lot of youngsters who played very well in my opinion.”
Coach Man City Pellegrini on the comeback win:
“If we play the way we did in the second half we can play against any team. It’s the way we normally work – it’s the way I like us to play. It seems like it’s faster but it’s slower. For me, the most important thing tonight, above finishing top of the group, is that we returned to being the team we normally are. We improved a lot in the second half – we arranged it and once we were losing 2-1, we didn’t concede one chance. They haven’t lost since they lost to us and they beat Bayern Munich so it wasn’t easy.
I think the hard work we did already – I always said the most important thing was to qualify and it’s not easy to do it. After that it was important to finish in the top spot and we did it tonight. It’s better to finish first but all important teams will be in Round of 16 – if you want to win the title you have to play against the biggest teams.
I always use the example of when I was at Malaga – everyone wanted Malaga but we did very well – we won’t have an easy match. Of course it’s better not to draw Barcelona or Real Madrid at this stage but it’s only one round we avoid them. Last year we played very well against Bayern and Roma but this is one of the best nights we’ve had in Europe. We did very well against Sevilla, the whole game but tonight we were excellent in the second half.”