Louis van Gaal admitted Manchester United's failure to win the ball, especially in the second half, cost his side the game as they suffered a 2-1 defeat at the hands of FC Midtjylland in the first leg of the Europa League last 32 clash at MCH Arena, Herning on 18 February (Thursday). The return leg is in a week's time at Old Trafford and the Dutchman remains confident his side can progress to the next round of the competition.
United's trouble started even before the kick-off as they had to change their team after David de Gea picked up a knee injury during the warm-up session. Sergio Romero replaced the Spaniard after a late change in the team selection.
Memphis Depay gave the three-time European champions the lead in the first half. However, Midtjylland equalised as Pione Sisto scored just before the break. It was Paul Onuachu's strike in the 77th minute that gave the Danish champions the lead and that helped them seal a victory over United.
The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager admitted his side gave away the ball regularly, despite controlling the game in the first quarter of the match. Van Gaal expressed his frustration at his side's failure to score the second goal in United's latest defeat.
"After 10 or 15 minutes we controlled the match, we scored a goal but we also gave a goal away. One minute before half-time and that is a difficult time to concede a goal. In the second half I have to say that Midtjylland were winning every ball and that was very disappointing because you know in advance that this is the key to this game," Van Gaal explained, as quoted by United's official website.
"Then they score, and when you see how they score it is a little bit unnecessary in my opinion. But still we have a chance [to go through in the tie] I think.
"We have to speak about why our players were not capable of winning the second balls, to keep the ball in our possession, because we had a lot of unnecessary losses of the ball.
"Now I can only analyse that Midtjylland were winning these second balls and then you can expect they will score out of a few chances. But we could have scored also, Jesse Lingard could have scored two times I think. In spite of that we could have also finished the game."