Ten Hag praises impact of Man United subs and will continue to 'give players trust'

Goals from substitutes Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial help United hold on for 3-2 win over Omonia Nicosia in Europa League

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Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag praised his substitutes after Marcus Rashford scored two and set up fellow introduction Anthony Martial as Manchester United escaped a scare at Omonia Nicosia in the Europa League.

Wounded by Sunday’s 6-3 derby defeat at Manchester City, the Red Devils were stung in Cyprus after making a strong start as the hosts capitalised on lax defending to go ahead through Karim Ansarifard.

Omonia scored after Tyrell Malacia was dispossessed having collected a pass from ineffective Jadon Sancho following a clear free-kick, with Ten Hag replacing them with Luke Shaw and Rashford at half time.

The latter would go on to score either side of a fine goal by second-half substitute Martial, putting the Group E encounter out of reach despite Omonia replacement Nikolas Panayiotou making it 3-2 late on.

Speaking to The National after the game, Ten Hag said he was happy with how his players responded to falling behind and praised the impact of his substitutes.

"Football is a game of mistakes," the Dutchman said. "The first 30 or 35 minutes we played quite well, the only thing we didn't do was score a goal. When you score a goal you make your life easy, we didn't, then we concede a goal and it was the worst 10 minutes from the game from us. After half time, we dealt well with the setback."

On taking off Malacia and Sancho, Ten Hag added: "It was not what I was happy with, he movement with our ball, the width on the left side, for me was no good first-half. The movement from behind the defending line, so I hoped with Luke and Marcus we get more effect from that and so in my opinion that is what happened."

The victory provided an important three points in United’s quest to reach the Europa League knockout stages, having lost their Group E opener at home to Real Sociedad.

Thursday also gave Martial more valuable minutes after an injury-interrupted start to the season.

"We want to do it really careful because he [Martial] had a good pre-season ... I cannot force it. I have to do it with a plan. That is what we're trying to do.

"I'm happy with his performance, all the subs had a really good impact."

United return to Premier League action on Sunday with a trip to Goodison Park to face a resurgent Everton.

Last week's Manchester mauling halted a four-match win streak for United but Ten Hag said he will continue to back his players.

"That's a balance; I will give players trust, I will back them when they are in worse shape," he added.

"When they work hard, when they give their best in training sessions, when they take responsibility on the pitch, I will back them.

"But we are also united and our ambitions are really high, so you have to deliver and every player in the squad has to take that responsibility individually and they have to do it in a team culture. That is the demand from us, from the coaches to the players.

"Also I expect my players are brave on the pitch."

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Ten Hag has injury concerns over defender Raphael Varane, who was taken off with an ankle injury during the Manchester derby demolition, while fellow defenders Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka are not in contention.

The United manager also provided an update on Netherlands midfielder Donny van de Beek, who continues his recovery from a muscle injury, saying: "He's now back on the training grass, so he's outside doing his work but still individual, he's not returning to team training, so we have to wait for that moment."

Updated: October 07, 2022, 12:30 PM
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