Erik ten Hag has defended his substitutions in Manchester United’s 2-2 draw against Sevilla on Thursday night in what was an unprecedented collapse from the Red Devils.
The Red Devils seemed to be in total control of their Europa League quarter-final first-leg encounter, ripping apart the Spanish side with ease in the first half and going into the interval with a two-goal advantage thanks to a Marcel Sabitzer brace.
However, Ten Hag made a triple substitution shortly after the hour-mark, before utilizing his five subs soon after, which looked to hamper United’s control and disrupt their rhythm.
Ten Hag, on the other hand, made a triple replacement shortly after the hour mark before exhausting his five substitutes, which looked to impede United’s dominance and disturb their rhythm.
Sevilla levelled immediately following United’s fifth sub, and Lisandro Martinez then sustained a catastrophic injury, reducing the side to 10 men, with a Harry Maguire own goal in stoppage time leaving the tie still hanging in a balance.
With Bruno Fernandes and Antony both on yellow cards, Anthony Martial just returning from injury and Raphael Varane picking up a knock, Ten Hag says he had no choice but to make a raft of changes and felt his much-changed side still could have buried the game by netting the third goal.
Quizzed if his substitutions cost United the match, Ten Hag replied: “I had to make (the changes) – there was no other way.
“Rafa was injured and the first I had to make. Then Anthony Martial’s first start after a long period, so we had to make him on the 60.
“Then Bruno (Fernandes), I got the warning from the ref he was short before the second booking and the same with Antony dos Santos, so I had to make the subs. I had no other choice.
“But, still, we controlled the game, still we had to score the third goal.
“Then I think in the last 10 minutes of the game everything was against us, also we have to be more smart.
“We switch off, of course, with the first goal, then we get an injury of Licha [Lisandro Martinez].
“Both goals against were really unlucky goals. Two deflected. What can you do against it? Sometimes you have bad days, and you have bad luck and tonight was not our night.”