Europa League - Ferguson: I picked wrong team
Fri, 24 Feb 06:58:00 2012
Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson took the blame for fielding too many young defenders after his side came close to crashing out of the Europa League to Ajax.
Leading their last-32 clash 2-0 from the first leg in Amsterdam, United – who were without ill striker Wayne Rooney – suffered a 2-1 home defeat after Ferguson rang the changes.
"I'm disappointed, I'm responsible for picking the team and there were too many young players in the back four, that was a big problem in terms of experience," said Ferguson said.
"It was a big risk I took. Ajax are a fantastic football team in terms of keeping the ball, they never looked like scoring (at first) but they got the goal and it gave them that encouragement."
Europa League : Manchester
United appeared to be cruising when Javier Hernandez put them ahead after six minutes, cutting inside his marker to score with a clinical finish after being set up by Dimitr Berbatov. That made it 3-0 on aggregate.
Ajax levelled when Aras Ozbiliz thumped home a first-time shot from 20 yards despite a suspected handball by Nicolas Lodeiro in the build up.
Ajax, the first Dutch team to win at Old Trafford, took control of the game and sounded a warning just before the hour when Siem de Jong's header was brilliantly turned over the bar by David De Gea.
Although United eased Ajax's grip after Paul Scholes came on, defender Toby Aldeweireld stole ahead of hesitant defenders to head home from a free kick in the 87th minute.
Spanish goalkeeper De Gea’s save ultimately put United through as a 3-1 win on the night would have seen Ajax win on away goals.
"De Gea made a tremendous save," said Ferguson. "You think about the size of our team and they got two headers from corner kicks, which you don't expect."PA Sport / Reuters