Chris Smalling has warned his Manchester United team-mates that the repercussions will be dire this season if they don’t start taking their chances in front of goal.
The England international captained the Red Devils in the Netherlands last night as United slipped to a 2-1 defeat to PSV Eindhoven on match-day one of the Champions League.
Just like in most games this season, United dominated the possession but could not convert their control of the game into clear-cut chances as Hector Moreno and Luciano Narsingh goals overturned Memphis Depay’s opener.
Louis van Gaal’s side controlled 67% of the ball last night and had 17 shots on goal compared to PSV’s six but only came away with a goal – and Luke Shaw’s double fracture – to show for their efforts, something Smalling wants addressed.
“I think that we missed a cutting edge in the final third and in their box, and we needed to really try and make more of our possession,” the defender told BT Sports.
“If you don’t take your chances and the other team take theirs then, like tonight, we’ll be well and truly punished.
“We scored a really good goal and then we couldn’t kick on from that. We’ve got a lot to learn to make sure we bounce back on Sunday.”
Depay’s neat piece of skill and finish on 41 minutes with goals either side of half-time from Moreno and Narsingh gave the Dutch champions all three points.
United pushed for an equalizer with Juan Mata rueing their best chance after failing to control Bastian Schweinsteiger’s beautifully weighted flick over the PSV defence.
While Depay’s positive performance against his former club and Ashley Young being deployed on the right-hand side made United look more dangerous going forward than in recent weeks, the lack of goals is a clear concern.
As expected Anthony Martial was given his first start in the absence of Wayne Rooney and the Frenchman showed plenty of pace and power to work the PSV defence, but was provided with few opportunities in front of goal to net his first European strike for the club.
More worryingly for Van Gaal, Shaw’s withdrawal with a horrific leg injury on 20 minutes appeared to shake United’s defence up with both Matteo Darmian and Marcos Rojo at fault in the build-up to PSV’s second goal.
With five more games still to be played by United in Group B you’d still fancy them to progress.
Tuesday’s defeat however has not silenced any of United’s critics as Van Gaal is once again left pondering how to get his side firing in the final third.
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