Manchester United must improve to challenge for title, says Solskjær | Manchester United

Ole Gunnar Solskjær praised Manchester United for beating Aston Villa and drawing level with Liverpool on 33 points but insisted his team need to improve if they are to maintain their title challenge.

The manager admitted the closing stages of the 2-1 win at Old Trafford was nerve-racking due to his side’s poor game management.

“I did not enjoy the last 10 minutes that much because I feel we should have seen the game out in a better way,” said Solskjær.

“It seemed like the cup final or the last game of the season. We need to learn how to play out games better.”

United are second to the champions on goal difference after 16 matches and may have a chance to take the outright lead when travelling to Liverpool on 17 January.

Solskjær said: “I think the league and the season is going to be so tight anyway.

“There are going to be strange results. We have to keep improving and since Project Restart started we have been consistent.

“Every time you win a game you take it one step further. The first game is just as important as the last game of the season, they all count the same.”

Ole Gunnar Solskjær was a happy man as he left the Old Trafford pitch.
Ole Gunnar Solskjær was a happy man as he left the Old Trafford pitch. Photograph: Matthew Peters/Manchester United/Getty Images

After Anthony Martial’s first-half header opened the scoring, Bertrand Traoré’s 58th-minute equaliser was answered moments later by Bruno Fernandes’s penalty.

His 15th strike of the season proved the winner, with an injury time David de Gea save from Matty Cash followed by Eric Bailly’s block of Keinan Davis’s shot the last act of the contest.

Solskjær praised his goalkeeper and centre-back. “The game was won by a fantastic block and a great save,” said the United manager. Fernandes’s penalty was claimed by Pogba after Michael Oliver, the referee, adjudged Douglas Luiz to have fouled him in the area. VAR agreed and while Dean Smith also concurred with the decision at the time, when seeing it again after the match Villa’s manager was left “dumbfounded”.

Smith said: “They got what I believed was a penalty at the time. I thought Douglas had got too tight from the throw in.

“Having seen it back it looks like he [Pogba] has tripped himself up and for me Michael should have been sent to the camera. That is what VAR is for and if there is so much doubt then get yourself over there.

“I’m a little dumbfounded – it looks very dubious to me.”

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