Manchester United forward Anthony Martial helped the Red Devils secure a point at CSKA Moscow in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday.
The France international, 19, gave away a first-half penalty after handling the ball in the penalty area. And although Roman Eremenko’s penalty was saved, Seydou Doumbia hammered in the rebound to give the hosts a 1-0 lead.
Martial redeemed himself on 65 minutes, heading home an Antonio Valencia cross, but Van Gaal was disappointed with the way the 19-year-old conceded the spot kick.
“It was a stupid reaction from Anthony but before that maybe it was offside, I don’t know,” Van Gaal told reporters. “I thought it was offside, but I don’t know. It was close. But the reaction, it’s the first time that he did it and there always has to be a first time, but for us it was unlucky because I think we controlled the game.
“We don’t play too fast, I think. The ball possession was too slow in the first half, but we improved in the second half and we scored a fantastic goal. We could have won, but ‘could have’ doesn’t count in football.”
At half-time, with the Red Devils trailing 1-0, Van Gaal decided to replace Bastian Schweinsteiger with Marouane Fellaini; however, the manager insisted he was not angry with his side’s first-half performance.
LVG added: “Angry? I have given my advice [at halftime] as to how we could win this game because that is more important than getting angry. A reaction like Martial is stupid, but it happens. We are all human beings, so no angry is not the right word. Maybe disappointed because we were playing too slow.”
In fact, Van Gaal was really disappointed in United’s inability to create chances despite dominating possession.
“We had a lot of ball possession but you have to create something with that ball possession, and we didn’t create so much,” Van Gaal said. “That’s why I changed the shape and the players, and I think the second half was a better half and I think we deserved to draw and maybe also to win.
“We played at a higher tempo I think. We switched the game from one side to the other, and that is also why we got the goal and we created more chances. We also didn’t give many away.”
However, for good measure, Van Gaal did throw some praise Martial’s way: “He was playing with a lot of strength for the opponent, and he played always at a certain level. He is very consistent, and for a 19-year-old boy I like that.”