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Valencia 2-1 Man Utd: Champions League defeat for Jose Mourinho’s side


Valencia v Manchester United

Manchester United were aiming to win a third consecutive Champions League away game

Manchester United slumped to a limp defeat in Valencia as Paul Pogba’s glaring miss and Phil Jones’ own goal ensured they missed the chance to win Champions League Group H.

United were already assured of qualification for the knockout stages, and a win would have taken them above Juventus, who were surprisingly beaten 2-1 by Young Boys of Switzerland.

But Jose Mourinho’s side put in a poor performance and were well beaten by a team, 15th in the Spanish top flight, who named an experimental line-up as they were already certain of finishing third.

Carlos Soler pounced on Jones’ headed clearance to strike home a fizzing low finish amid slack marking for Valencia’s opener.

And Jones was badly at fault for the second after the break as he diverted a through ball past Sergio Romero from outside his own box, when the United keeper had left his line to claim the ball.

That disastrous error followed a remarkable miss by Pogba in the first half, when the France midfielder somehow stabbed wide from four yards out after Marouane Fellaini’s knockdown at a corner.

Three second-half substitutes combined to earn a late consolation, as Marcus Rashford headed home Ashley Young’s cross after Jesse Lingard kept the ball in play.

Juan Mata then almost grabbed an equaliser as he fired a volley wide from inside the box after Pogba’s smart chip over the defence.

But defeat means United will play a group winner in the knockout stage, one of Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund, Paris St-Germain, Porto, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.

Had United finished top, they would have faced one of Atletico Madrid, Roma, Schalke, Ajax and Lyon.

They next play Premier League leaders Liverpool at Anfield in a 16:00 GMT kick-off on Sunday.

Pogba and Jones not only culprits

Before the game. United boss Mourinho singled out Pogba, urging him to make a “a good impact” after being left out of Saturday’s 4-1 Premier League home win over Fulham.

His terrible miss was only overshadowed by Jones scoring past his own keeper, but in truth it would be hard to argue that any of United’s players enjoyed a successful evening.

Striker Romelu Lukaku endured an error-strewn night with several poor, heavy touches, while Fred, starting for just the seventh time following his £47m summer arrival, also looked off the pace in midfield.

Mourinho’s side did rally slightly in the closing stages, but for the vast majority of the game only threatened in isolated chances they threw away, while their defending was calamitous at times. Valencia might have scored four or five.

Michy Batshuayi missed a golden chance to double the lead in the first half when he headed over from close range, Dani Parejo was only denied by a last-ditch block and Romero was forced off his line to stop Santi Mina after a Jones slip that followed his own goal.

United may not have been expecting Juve to slip up too, but were aiming to win all three of their away group matches in the Champions League for the first time since 2010-11.

They made the final that year, losing to Barcelona at Wembley. There looks to be very slim hope of repeating such a run this term.

Job done, Mourinho says

How important does United’s unlikely and slightly fortunate 2-1 victory away to Juventus look now? How about the last-gasp winner at home Young Boys, when Mourinho celebrated by throwing a drinks bottle carrier cage to the ground?

Ultimately, those points – perhaps not won convincingly – are the difference between playing in the Europa League’s last 32 and the Champions League last 16.

Mourinho said, regardless of Wednesday’s outcome, it was “job done in a difficult group”.

He added: “I don’t think we were brilliant in this group phase, but with the problems we had and the injuries we had we managed to come here already qualified.”

United’s Champions League results this season:

  • W v Young Boys (a) 0-3
  • D v Valencia (h) 0-0
  • L v Juventus (h) 0-1
  • W v Juventus (a) 2-1
  • W v Young Boys (h) 1-0
  • L v Valencia (a) 2-1

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‘Not enough intensity and ambition’

More from Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho, speaking to BT Sport:

“We were too passive in the first half. We were quite comfortable with the ball but not in intensity and ambition. In the second half, I was pretty sure that after speaking at half-time things could be different but we started with an own goal that gave Valencia a better position to control the game.

“I made the two changes later and the team improved immediately, we started playing faster, arriving with link play in more dangerous positions, and we probably should get to 2-2 because we had a couple of good chances to equalise.

“But we started the first half playing too comfortable and not with enough intensity.”

‘Back to square one’ – analysis

Former Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher on BBC Radio 5 live

It wasn’t a dead rubber for Manchester United because they have Liverpool on Sunday and some of the players that played tonight aren’t in the team regularly. There were questions over them.

Now it feels like players who should have a point to prove have come back in [and haven’t proved themselves] and it’s kind of back to square one. It was slow, lethargic, disjointed.

Defenders were sitting back and it doesn’t work like that – it’s a hindrance on the team because they are not up the pitch far enough to support the play. They then end up so deep it invites pressure and they concede goals.

It took Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard to show some endeavour to go and press and lift the team.

If they had played like that from the first minute they would have won the game for me and topped the group. It was too little too late.

Man of the match – Carlos Soler (Valencia)

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As well as his four key passes, Soler’s crisp and confident finish set the tone for an impressive Valencia performance.

Jones joins Lynch – the stats

  • Valencia beat Manchester United in a Champions League match for the first time, in what was the eighth meeting between the sides (W1 D5 L2).
  • Manchester United progressed to the knockout stages of the Champions League with no more than three group-stage victories for the first time since 2008-09 when they won two. That season, they went on to reach the final.
  • Phil Jones is the first Manchester United player to score an own goal away from home in a Champions League match since Mark Lynch did so against Deportivo la Coruna in March 2003 – his only senior appearance for the club.
  • Carlos Soler has been directly involved in three goals in his past two home games in the Champions League for Valencia (two goals, one assist).
  • Marcus Rashford’s consolation strike for Manchester United was his first headed goal in the Champions League, and first goal in the competition since December 2017 against CSKA Moscow.

Live Text

Match ends, Valencia 2, Manchester United 1.

Second Half ends, Valencia 2, Manchester United 1.

Offside, Manchester United. Ashley Young tries a through ball, but Marcus Rashford is caught offside.

Foul by Andreas Pereira (Manchester United).

Daniel Parejo (Valencia) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Corner, Valencia. Conceded by Antonio Valencia.

Attempt missed. Juan Mata (Manchester United) left footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Paul Pogba with a through ball.

Attempt missed. Michy Batshuayi (Valencia) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right. Assisted by Carlos Soler.

Foul by Marouane Fellaini (Manchester United).

Cristiano Piccini (Valencia) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Goal! Valencia 2, Manchester United 1. Marcus Rashford (Manchester United) header from the centre of the box to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Ashley Young with a cross.

Offside, Valencia. Daniel Parejo tries a through ball, but Rodrigo Moreno is caught offside.

Attempt saved. Paul Pogba (Manchester United) right footed shot from long range on the left is saved in the bottom right corner. Assisted by Ashley Young.

Foul by Marcus Rashford (Manchester United).

Rúben Vezo (Valencia) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Offside, Valencia. Mouctar Diakhaby tries a through ball, but Michy Batshuayi is caught offside.

Marcus Rashford (Manchester United) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Marcus Rashford (Manchester United).

Rúben Vezo (Valencia) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Attempt missed. Marcus Rashford (Manchester United) header from the centre of the box misses to the left. Assisted by Antonio Valencia with a cross.

Offside, Valencia. Jaume Doménech tries a through ball, but Michy Batshuayi is caught offside.

Attempt saved. Paul Pogba (Manchester United) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Jesse Lingard.

Foul by Eric Bailly (Manchester United).

Michy Batshuayi (Valencia) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Foul by Eric Bailly (Manchester United).

Ezequiel Garay (Valencia) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Corner, Manchester United. Conceded by Ezequiel Garay.

Foul by Antonio Valencia (Manchester United).

Rúben Vezo (Valencia) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Corner, Manchester United. Conceded by Jaume Doménech.

Attempt saved. Andreas Pereira (Manchester United) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top centre of the goal. Assisted by Paul Pogba.

Attempt saved. Marcus Rashford (Manchester United) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Marouane Fellaini.

Foul by Ashley Young (Manchester United).

Carlos Soler (Valencia) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Substitution, Manchester United. Jesse Lingard replaces Romelu Lukaku.

Substitution, Valencia. Rodrigo Moreno replaces Santi Mina.

Attempt missed. Ferrán Torres (Valencia) right footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high. Assisted by Geoffrey Kondogbia.

Substitution, Valencia. Ferrán Torres replaces Denis Cheryshev.

Foul by Marouane Fellaini (Manchester United).

Santi Mina (Valencia) wins a free kick in the attacking half.