Manchester United claimed their first UEFA Champions League win of the season last night, against VfL Wolfsburg. The German side played very well, with Daniel Caligiuri snapping up an early goal to force United to attack.
The Red Devils bombarded Wolfsburg until they they took a 2-1 lead, through Juan Mata’s penalty, and Chris Smalling’s goal, set up by an awesome flick over by Mata.
Manager Louis van Gaal, speaking to MUTV, had this to say about the win:
On United’s performance and the importance of victory:
“It was a very good win, it was a must-win and it was very difficult when you start with one goal behind in the first four minutes, when they scored a fantastic goal, I have to admit.”
“Then it is very difficult to beat a German team; they were very organised and structured but in spite of that we came back in the match and we created a lot of chances. In the first half we played very well but we didn’t finish our chances, and that was our problem.”
“Only from the penalty that we got off this referee could we score. It was 1-1 at half-time but we created chances to be 3-1 ahead. Then you have to continue and we did, but only for the first 15 minutes.”
“I think. After the goal it was transforming our team, because we didn’t keep the ball anymore and I didn’t see Wolfsburg pressing so much, so we gave the ball away. We did it by ourselves because the players are tired and the accumulation of the matches is very high in England.”
“The last five matches we have kept the ball fantastically in our possession and now we couldn’t do it anymore. We have to recover, recover and recover because Sunday is Arsenal and they played yesterday, so they have one more day of recovery.”
Should United have been more clinical in attack?
“Of course, because you shall win the Champions League when you are clinical and when you can finish the game much earlier.”
“We had the chances to do that in the first half, or to keep the ball in the second half.”
“We didn’t do that and I was suffering on the bench, but the fans were also suffering and I have to admit the players were also suffering.”
“But they continued with the team spirit. We didn’t give too many chances away, only for Andre Schurrle, and we also had two chances on the counter-attack. But I am very happy. We must win the game and we are first in the group with the goal average of three together.”
Why Antonio Valencia, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Memphis were substituted:
“No, I think it was tactical because I wanted to prevent crosses from that side and Antonio let them cross.”
“Also, I saw that at that side they could be more effective on that side. Schweinsteiger, he was tired I thought and that was the reason, because he also gave balls away and Schweinsteiger is normally the best possession player, so that is the reason I changed him. The same for Memphis.”
Was the manager pleased for Chris Smalling following his goal?
“Of course, he did it already against PSV Eindhoven when he could have scored also and now he scored.”
“I am so happy because it shall give him such a boost. His development as a player is amazing, so I am very happy with him.”