Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is hoping for another famous comeback in the EFL Cup semi-finals despite admitting Manchester United players shirked their responsibilities in the 3-1 defeat to Manchester City.
Pep Guardiola’s side were torn apart in the first half of United’s 2-1 Premier League win at the Etihad Stadium last month, but the tables were turned in a one-sided encounter at Old Trafford on Tuesday.
Bernardo Silva, Riyad Mahrez and an Andreas Pereira own goal put City 3-0 up at half-time as United wilted against their local rivals.
Marcus Rashford got a goal back in the second half as City eased back to conserve fitness, leaving Solskjaer to hold out hope of the kind of comeback they produced against Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League last season when they won 3-1 in the second leg after losing 2-0 at home.
“From their first goal, especially from their second goal, we struggled to get to grips with them,” he told Sky Sports.
“Good reaction second half, that’s more like it, but first half, until they scored, it was there and back, there and back, no one really dominated. After they scored, we didn’t cope with that setback well enough.
“We didn’t deal with [their tactics] well enough. We know that they can play that way, we’ve seen them do it a few times, I went to see them last year against Chelsea play that way and win 5-0 at the Etihad, so that’s not a surprise.
“They’re good at what they’re doing. The first goal, there’s nothing we can do about it; second goal, it’s a bit sloppy, and the third, we just didn’t recover from those goals.
“At half-time, we could get into their heads a little bit and we did well second half.
“We’ve shown before that we’ve been down from a home tie and turned it around, last year against PSG is the latest example for us, so we’ve just got to believe when we go to the Etihad and hope we can put a performance on.”
Solskjaer brought on Nemanja Matic for the anonymous Jesse Lingard at half-time in an effort to get better control against a City side who played without a recognised centre-forward.
The United boss felt too many of his players were not taking enough responsibility on the ball before Matic was introduced.
“With Nemanja, with his experience, [we had] more presence, but it was more about wanting the ball, believing, taking the ball, passing forward – the first half was too many square and back passes,” he said.
“We just passed the buck to the next one. Someone needed to take responsibility and we did that second half.”
Solskjaer’s selection was influenced by injuries, with Harry Maguire unavailable after getting a knock against Wolves, Paul Pogba and Scott McTominay sidelined and Anthony Martial fit enough only to appear as a substitute.
“It was a decision made very late on in terms of who was fit and who wasn’t, but that’s no excuse,” Solskjaer said. “We have the players we have, and we put a team out there believing we could get a result.”