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Manchester United’s defensive display pleases boss Erik tan Hag

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 9 Mar 2024

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Manchester United boss Erik ten Hag hailed the defensive discipline of his team despite them once again conceding more than 20 shots in their 2-0 Premier League victory over Everton.

James Tarkowski hacked down Alejandro Garnacho inside the box 12 minutes in and Bruno Fernandes tucked into the right corner from the resulting spot kick to put United 1-0 to the good.

Garnacho won another penalty in the 34th minute after Ben Godfrey flew in on the Argentinian and this time Fernandes handed the ball to Marcus Rashford who sent Jordan Pickford the wrong way for his seventh goal of the season.

Everton continued to press in the second period but their 23 shots were in vein as United bounced back from two defeats on the spin.

Manchester City had 27 shots at their goal while winning the derby last week, but after allowing a number of chances again today, ten Hag said: “If you see their xG is not that high and ours is much higher.

“It is their gameplan, obviously. We have players who feel comfortable to defend low. But you have to be disciplined and you have to incorporate it very well.

“It was a team performance, especially our back four with the keeper and Casemiro. They have done very well.

“You see the chances, they had some, also I think the way we defended set-plays was very good.

“We were really organised and we were focused – everyone did their job. There was one or two second phases where they we had some opportunities, but all over we did quite well.”

Garnacho went over in the box to win both penalties and was by far United’s best player in another sub-par performance at Old Trafford.

Boss ten Hag expressed his joy of working with the Argentinian but knows there are still vast areas to improve.

He added: “I love to work with Garnacho and many other players in the squad but he is a player who likes a challenge. Brave, confident and our job is to push him to high level but he is doing this. He has high potential.

“When you are young you don’t know what it is to play in a high competitive league and perform every third day.

“You don’t know you have to perform every training session. You need a lot of skills to be the best.”

Everton’s woes in front of goal continued despite their best efforts, including good chances from Abdoulaye Doucoure, Amadou Onana and Dwight McNeil.

The Toffees have scored just 14 open play goals this season and boss Sean Dyche knows his side have to find confidence in front of goal.

He said: “Very frustrating, as you can imagine and we have had a run of that where we have been performing correctly in so many ways.

“The most important thing is the scoreline, that’s the biggest stat and we’ve got on the wrong side of it, we have to work on it.

“I don’t know what teams have come here and had that many efforts on goal and chances but we’ve got to get hurt to score goals as sometimes Brian Clough used to say. That’s what I’m not seeing.

“They are working, the shape is good, the football played is pleasing and so it’s frustrating to not see that come to fruition with scoring more goals because they’re doing a lot right.”

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