Erik ten Hag was delighted with the way Manchester United stayed on the ball as substitute Scott McTominay struck deep in injury time to deny Neil Lennon’s Omonia Nicosia a famous draw at Old Trafford.
The first home game in five weeks, a poor finish and the brilliant performance of substitute goalkeeper Francis Uzoho made the Cypriot side dream of an incredible Europa League result.
But three minutes into stoppage time, United managed to score on their 34th try of the evening when Jadon Sancho found fellow substitute McTominay to seal a 1-0 win from close range.
“You can see we score in every game except against Brentford, so there’s a lot of creativity and scoring chances in this team,” said coach Ten Hag of his side’s finish.
“Sometimes you have a night where you don’t succeed and for some players today was that night.
“But what’s good – and I have to congratulate the team on that – they keep going and not giving up.
“They keep believing that they will score and in the end they will be rewarded. That’s the way to do it.
“Unfortunately, I still had many nights where you play well, create chances, but don’t score. Football is about scoring goals and avoiding them.”
Marcus Rashford had 10 of the hosts’ 32 shots on a night when Omonia goalkeeper Uzoho made an incredible 12 saves
Fabiano impressed between the posts last Thursday as Lennon’s side lost 3-2 at home to United but a shoulder injury meant the Nigeria international was forced to play against the side he supports.
Uzoho admitted it was the achievement of his life and the delighted goalkeeper even asked for a photo with Ten Hag ahead of United’s press conference.
“I said (to him) well done,” said the Dutchman, whose side are close to qualifying for the knockout stage but will have to fight with Real Sociedad in Group E until the end.
“He made many, many saves, there weren’t that many clear goals, so we kept them in the game.
“I would say the performance up to the pits was good but the finish tonight wasn’t that good. Let’s hope we save the goals for next week.”
Omonia boss Lennon was disappointed with the late gut punch and said a draw would have been up there if Celtic had led to their famous 2-1 win over Barcelona in the Champions League a decade ago.
“I’m obviously very proud of the team, very proud of that man sitting on my left,” he said in the post-match press conference, which was seated alongside Omonia’s outstanding goalkeeper Uzoho.
“He was outstanding. He was inspired and when you play a team of our caliber against a team of our caliber the goalkeeper has to play well and he was just world class tonight. I’m so happy for him.
“We were a minute or two away from what was probably the greatest result in the club’s history.
“But if you keep giving the ball away cheaply like we did, it’s been wave after wave and in the end you have to settle for that, look, we just have to defend our box and try to see it. Unfortunately we couldn’t.
“There are so many things I’m happy with, but there’s the other side of the game that we could have done a lot better.
“I also have to look at the referee and think of the (Lisandro) Martinez challenge from Andronikos Kakoulli when he broke.
“He didn’t even give a free-kick for it. He never played the ball, he just charged it out of the way.
“Then we had a big chance on the counterattack when Bruno went left which we had been working on because United sometimes let you two against two and he made the shot when he was supposed to have crossed it and we had one big chance .
“But overall we fed on scraps and I’m disappointed at times with our holding of the ball but so proud of how they defended, defended the box and defended the goalkeeper.”
https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/erik-ten-hag-manchester-united-scott-mctominay-marcus-rashford-jadon-sancho-b2202520.html Erik ten Hag is happy with the way Manchester United are sticking to their task