Erik ten Hag denied that Manchester United’s shaky 3-2 win at Omonia Nicosia was as concerning a performance as Sunday’s 6-3 defeat at Manchester City.
United went behind on 33 minutes at the GSP Stadium to Karim Ansarifard’s strike, which occurred when Bruno Felipe broke away with no defender between him and David de Gea’s goal, and Ten Hag’s side subsequently lost composure until the break. Omonia came into the Group E match having won only once in European competition-proper in their last 26 matches. Given all of this, it was put to the manager that the display was as worrying as the derby loss at the Etihad Stadium.
“No,” he said. “I think it was a bad 10 minutes after we conceded the goal. It’s not easy against an opponent who are so compact to create chances, and we created a lot of chances.
“And when you get down against an opponent like this they get more energy and they fight for [their] lives. If you are able to come back you have the performance that you need – a win. We dealt with the setback, came back and that’s a positive from a mentality area but you can’t compare this with the game on Sunday.”
Tyrell Malacia and Jadon Sancho were both at fault for Ansarifard’s opener. Ten Hag replaced them at half-time with Luke Shaw and Marcus Rashford and he was asked if this was why. “It was not what I was unhappy with – it was the movement with our ball, the width on the left side, for me was no good first half,” said the Dutchman. “The movement from behind the defending line, so I hoped with Luke and Marcus we could get more effect from that and in my opinion that happens.”
Rashford scored twice and Anthony Martial once in United’s comeback, with Nikolas Panagiotou registering Omonia’s second towards the end. The win takes United to six points from three games.
Of the overall display, Ten Hag said: “I would call it: ‘[We] stay composed.’ This can always happen – football is a game of mistakes. The first 30 minutes we played quite well, the only thing we didn’t do was score a goal – when you score a goal you make your life easy.
“We didn’t, then we conceded a goal and it was the worst 10 minutes of the game from us. After half-time, we dealt well with the setback.”