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Solskjaer criticises ‘difficult’ ball used in Europa League tie

The Red Devils battled swirling wind and rain in Belgium – but their manager says the weather wasn’t the only thing hindering their performance

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has criticised the ball used in Manchester United’s Europa League draw with Club Brugge.

The Red Devils came from behind to secure a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their last-32 tie in Belgium, with Anthony Martial’s 14th goal of the season cancelling out an early strike by Bonaventure Dennis.

The game was played in difficult conditions, with high winds, rain and even hail swirling around the Jan Breydel Stadium.

Solskjaer, therefore, was reasonably satisfied to come away with a draw, though he felt it wasn’t just the weather that hindered their display.

“It was a difficult game against a well-organised team in difficult conditions,” he told reporters after the game.

“I don’t think it was one of the best games that anyone’s seen. A bit sloppy, concentration-wise, but the conditions with pitch and the ball make it hard. You can ask any of the players; that ball doesn’t help when you want to play football.”

When asked to elaborate on his comment about the ball, Solskjaer added: “It’s just different and difficult to play with, you can get one and try. But it’s the same for the two teams. The conditions weren’t nice; the wind and the rain.

“But anyway, strange goals for both teams. Their throw-in and long kick straight through the middle. A lack of concentration from both teams there.”

Solskjaer made six changes to the side that won at Chelsea on Monday, with the likes of David de Gea, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, and Bruno Fernandes all dropping to the bench.

With a clash against Watford to come in the Premier League on Sunday, the Norwegian felt he had little choice but to utilise his squad.

“Of course, a Monday night game and then Thursday, there’s less recovery and it’s a game again on Sunday. So you’ve got to think about the bigger picture and not one game,” he added.

“So we made the decisions we made and we got a draw, a score draw. So they’ve got to come to Old Trafford, score and if they want a draw they need to score more than one. So we’re looking forward to Thursday.”

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