Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal was left disappointed after his team were knocked out of the Champions League by Wolfsburg on 8 December and they will now join Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur in the Europa League. The Dutchman believes his team did everything to try and win the game, but came up short as the Bundesliga side were prepared to deal with every situation thrown at them.
The Red Devils had to win the game to ensure progress, as a draw would have only been sufficient if PSV Eindhoven, who went into the last 16 as the second placed team in Group B, had also drawn against CSKA Moscow. United started well with Anthony Martial giving them the lead in the 10th minute, but could not hold on as Wolfsburg equalised two minutes later through Naldo, and then took the lead with a brilliantly worked goal finished off by Vieirinha in the 29th minute.
The 20-time English champions were handed a lifeline when midfielder Josuha Guilavogui headed into his own net to make it 2-2, but yet again failed to maintain their composure as Naldo claimed his second of the night with less than ten minutes to play. The draw, however, would not have been sufficient as PSV beat CSKA 2-1 at the Philips Stadion to qualify in second place ahead of the Old Trafford outfit. There was a moment of controversy as United were denied an equaliser late in the first-half after the referee judged Juan Mata to have interfered with play from an offside position after Jesse Lingard had scored the goal.
"I haven't thought about that at this moment. I am very disappointed, the players are very disappointed. This is the league where we wanted to show our qualities, and we cannot do that anymore," Van Gaal said, as quoted on United's official site.
"I think it is a crazy match. We scored the goals, then they are cancelling [out our] goals. Still we had chances, but they have also chances. When we scored, they scored after two minutes again. Also the winning goal was two minutes after we had equalised, so we had the chance to win I think. We fought for the win, but with ten men at the end [after injuries] we couldn't do more than what we have done."
"When you see that as a linesman then you are very good. When you firstly give the goal and then when a few players come and say to you, you change your mind, it is strange in my opinion."
"I don't think that the goalkeeper was interfered by Mata, because the ball is turning in the goal. So I don't think he can reach that ball. Of course he [the goalkeeper] sees Mata in an offside position and he takes the benefit of that, criticising the referee," the Dutch manager added.