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Erik ten Hag admits Man Utd ‘need options’ up front after failing to win Europa League group | Football news

Erik ten Hag admitted Manchester United needed “options” up front after beating Real Sociedad but not scoring enough goals to avoid a draw in the Europa League play-offs.

Already assured of progress in Group E, the second-placed Red Devils arrived in Spain knowing they had to win by a margin of two goals to usurp the first-seeded hosts and advance straight to the round of 16.

Teenager Alejandro Garnacho got off to a great start but United lost their way after halftime, with Ten Hag’s changes being ineffective as La Real dug deep into a 1-0 defeat meaning they topped the group.

The Reds finish second and will face one of the teams to drop out of the Champions League, with Barcelona, ​​Juventus and Ten Hag’s former club Ajax as possible opponents in Monday’s play-off draw.

Ten Hag was pleased with Garnacho – who overtook George Best as the club’s youngest non-English goalscorer in major European competitions – but says United need to work on their effectiveness in the final third.

Erik ten Hag, Manchester United
Ten Hag’s team had to beat Real Sociedad by two goals to win their Europa League group

“We need options,” said the Dutchman BT Sport. “We have problems there.

“Antony not available, Anthony Martial not available, Jadon Sancho not available, but I am very happy with that performance and I hope he can keep the process going.

“He was a threat, he scored a goal, he was reliable in defence, so if you can keep this up I’ll be very happy.”

Such was United’s lack of firepower beforehand, Ten Hag brought in Harry Maguire in the 82nd minute as a makeshift striker alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and fellow substitute Marcus Rashford.

At his press conference after the game, Ten Hag added: “Of course we always want to be number one. And if we are not, we are disappointed. But in the end we won tonight. It was a clean slate. We created some great opportunities, but we had some problems on the front line.

“Obviously we need to work on that. We need to score more goals. But in the end it is what it is. I think within this group we’ve had our chances to get a better goal difference. That’s the right analysis. “

Manchester United's Alejandro Garnacho, left, celebrates with team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo after his goal against Real Sociedad
Alejandro Garnacho gave Manchester United the lead in the 17th minute against Real Sociedad after being outplayed by Cristiano Ronaldo

Garnacho received a standing ovation after his first start against Sheriff Tiraspol last Thursday and opened his United account with an excellent goal in San Sebastian.

Ten Hag praised the 18-year-old’s ‘great finish’ a week after he revealed he was annoyed by the teen’s attitude earlier in the season – a situation Bruno Fernandes expanded on in Spain.

“He was good, but he knows we expect a lot from him,” said the Portuguese BT Sport. “Of course he is still very young, he is doing very well.

“At the beginning of the season he was not at his best. In the tour he didn’t have the best attitude he should have and that’s why he didn’t get his chances until now.

“He gets his chances because he trains better, has a different attitude and deserves his chances.”

When is the draw for the Europa League play-offs?

The draw for the Europa League play-offs will take place at the UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland, on 7 November at 12 noon.

The eight group winners of the Europa League will compete against the eight third-placed teams from the group stage of the Champions League.

The eight group winners from the Europa League miss the draw and receive a bye for the round of 16. On 24 February they will be placed and drawn against one of the eight winners from the play-off round.

However, no two sides of the same national association can be drawn against each other in the play-off round or round of 16.

Who can Man Utd face in the Europa League play-offs?

  • Ajax
  • Bayer Leverkusen
  • Barcelona
  • Sporting Lisbon
  • Red Bull Salzburg
  • Shakhtar Donetsk
  • Seville
  • Juventus

What’s next for Man Utd?

Thursday, November 10, 7:00 PM

Kick-off 20:00

Manchester United have three games left before the World Cup. They return to Premier League action on Sunday when they travel to Aston Villa (starting at 2 p.m.). United then take on Unai Emery’s side again in the EFL Cup at Old Trafford on November 10, live on air sports (starting at 8 p.m.).

In United’s last game before the tournament in Qatar, they make the trip to Fulham in the Premier League on November 13, also live on air sports (starting at 4.30 pm).

Sunday 13 November 4 pm

Kick-off 4.30 pm

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