Ole Gunnar Solskjær highlighted Manchester United’s poor finishing after his side failed to advance into the Europa League final and said his young players still had plenty to learn about closing out games and achieving consistency.
“We are still a young side, about three years younger than Sevilla on average,” the United manager said after a disappointing 2-1 defeat in Cologne. “I think you saw that tonight. There was tiredness but there was also inexperience. I think if we had taken our chances we would have won the game but that is not always how football works.
“We could have scored quite a few goals but when you don’t score from the opportunities you create you know you might be in for a hard night. We were caught on the break for the winning goal, we should have stopped the cross in the first place and then we should have cleared it, but it’s been a long season and we need a break now.
“Since February we have been fantastic, we have come quite a distance and it’s been exciting to work with these boys, but when you have lost three semi-finals in one season you know you still have work to do to improve. We will be looking at that over the next few weeks, seeing what we can do to add quality to the squad.”
Harry Maguire said the best team had lost, though the United captain conceded that goals win games. Sevilla scored two from open play, while United, frequently denied by the exceptional Yassine Bounou in the Sevilla goal, created a wealth of chances but actually managed to beat the opposing goalkeeper only from the penalty spot.
“I though we deserved to win the game, but we conceded from two crosses,” Maguire said. “That’s not good enough really. We scored early on but then let them have a bit too much possession. That’s three semi-finals we have lost this season and for this club it is not acceptable.
“We dominated a really good team tonight and ended up with nothing. The boys in the dressing room are devastated. People will say we had a good season because we finished third in the Premier League, but do we want to finish third next season? No we don’t.”
Maguire was arguably out of position for both Sevilla goals, though it was Victor Lindelöf who was the most culpable for allowing Luuk de Jong to put away a Jesús Navas cross for Sevilla’s winner. Bruno Fernandes certainly seemed to think so, and the midfielder could be seen remonstrating with his teammate after United had allowed De Jong to score with almost embarrassing ease.
“That’s normal on a football field if you are 10 minutes from a final and you let the other team score,” Fernandes said. “We played a great game, created a lot of chances, but we missed a lot in front of goal. Yes, you can say the goalkeeper had a good game, because he did, but with the quality we have we needed to score.”