x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

It was a nervy night for Manchester United, says Ferguson

The Premier League side are given a Europa League scare by Ajax while Stoke City bow out to Valencia.

Manchester United's Dimitar Berbatov vies for ball with Ajax's Siem de Jong.
Manchester United's Dimitar Berbatov vies for ball with Ajax's Siem de Jong.

Sir Alex Ferguson conceded a lack of experience almost condemned his side to an embarrassing Europa League exit at Old Trafford last night.

With their last-32 tie with Ajax virtually wrapped up in Amsterdam last week, Ferguson fielded a youthful Manchester United boss line-up at Old Trafford.

But despite Javier Hernandez scoring for the fourth consecutive game, United failed to build on their advantage and Ajax goals either side of the interval completed a 2-1 win for the Dutch giants that left them just a goal away from advancing to a meeting with Athletic Bilbao.

"It was a nervy night," said Ferguson.

"I thought with a 2-0 lead it was a great opportunity to give Chris Smalling and Phil Jones a game because they have been out for such a long time.

"They have great potential but the lack of experience in terms of tying up the game created a problem for us.

"For a European night it was too much of a risk."

Stoke City may be out of Europe after their 2-0 defeat to Valencia last night but their fans and players have ensured they will not be forgotten, according to manager Tony Pulis.

The Europa League is a much-maligned competition but Stoke embraced it, winning seven of their 12 matches and coming through a tough group containing Besiktas and Dynamo Kiev before finally falling to the European heavyweights in the last 32.

"It's been fantastic, we've really enjoyed it. It's given everybody at the club a lift. It's something we've never experienced before.

"To play the number of games we have in Europe, to go all over Europe - and sometimes, in my mind, just outside Europe, and I've been caned for that - and we had a right go.

"In the first 20 minutes, if we'd just have had a bit of luck, we needed a goal and it just didn't come."