Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has called on side to ‘believe’ they can still reach the Carabao Cup final, after seeing his Manchester United team slip to a 3-1 defeat to Man City in the first leg of the semi-final at Old Trafford tonight.
The reigning Premier League champions were simply too good for Manchester United during an impressive first-half showing, Portuguese playmaker Bernardo Silva opening the scoring after 17 minutes with a sublime long-range effort.
Silva would then turn provider slipping in Riyad Mahrez, who calmly rounded David De Gea to put his side two goals up and the game seemed dead and buried seven minutes before the break when the unfortunate Andreas Pereira diverted the ball into his own net after a Kevin De Bruyne shot was parried straight at him.
In all honesty, Pep Guardiola’s side could have easily gone in at half-time five or six up such was their dominance and the ease at which they were cutting through an off the pace United backline.
However, United would emerge in the second period and regain at least some form of pride, Marcus Rashford finishing well on 70 minutes to give the Red Devils slender hope of pulling off an unlikely comeback in the second leg.
Speaking after the game Solskajer admitted his side couldn’t handle City during the first period, but remains optimistic his side can fight back in the second leg.
“From their first goal and especially the second we struggled to get to grips with them,” Solskjaer told Sky Sports.
”A good reaction second half, but first half until they scored it is was back and forth. We didn’t cope with the setback well enough.
“We didn’t deal with their system well enough, we know they can play that way. They played that way last season and beat Chelsea 5-0.
“First goal there is nothing we can do, second is sloppy and the third we just didn’t recover.
“With Matic and his experience (coming on in the second half) he had more presence. It was more about wanting the ball and believing, passing the ball. Someone needed to take responsibility.
”We’ve shown before we have been down from a home tie and turned it around. PSG is the latest example and we have to believe that we can put on a performance.”
Both sides will have to wait a while for the second leg, with the tie set to take place on January 29.