Erik ten Hag frustrated with Man Utd trio after ‘difficult’ Luton win | Football | Sport

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But United allowed Luton back into the match when Carlton Morris halved the deficit 14 minutes in. The Hatters piled the pressure on for the rest of the first period but the Red Devils survived until half time still in front.

After half-time changes, United were more secure in the second half but they wasted a succession of goalscoring opportunities to extend their advantage. Rashford, Garnacho, Fernandes and Hojlund were all guilty of wasting chances to put the game beyond the home side.

And Ten Hag, speaking to Sky Sports, said post-match: “It could have been an easy game after, say, 10 minutes. In the end it was a difficult game because we didn’t take our chances and we allowed them back into it.

“It was a very good start but after, Garnacho and Rashy, we had big chances to make it 3-0 and 4-0. We dropped too deep and allowed them to get back into the game and we didn’t close the half-spaces where they passed the ball in and then our centre-halves have to come out.

“We allowed them shots and crosses. It got difficult. Second half as well, we didn’t take our chances and there were so many big chances. We should’ve scored. With Bruno, with Garnacho, with Rashford. They were not opportunities, they were 100 per cent chances.

“One has to go in. Then you make your life easy. We kept them in the game. [After going 2-0 up] We lost a bit of focus. Maybe because it was so easy in the first 10 minutes and you score twice. With some players, they go a little bit less.

“You can’t afford this, definitely not against a side like Luton Town. I analysed them, when they lost, they only lost twice by two goals difference. You have to be ready, you have to be 100 per cent focused. That was something we lost after 10 minutes.”

United ultimately held on for an important three points to secure a fourth successive Premier League win. Since drawing with Tottenham in mid-January at Old Trafford, the Red Devils have closed the gap on Spurs from eight points to three.

Aston Villa currently occupy fourth spot and are five points ahead of United. They face Spurs at Villa Park on March 10 in a match Ten Hag and his players will be keeping a keen eye on.

Discussing his team’s chances of Champions League qualification, the Dutch manager continued: “I think we’re back in the race and building momentum. We have to keep this going and keep working on our game and build the pressure on them [Spurs].

“We have to go game to game, every game for us is a final to get closer to them and make more distance to the teams who are behind us.”

And explaining the decision to sub off Casemiro and Harry Maguire at half-time, with the duo both on a yellow card, Ten Hag continued: “I saw the reaction from the referee. My thought was with the next one they would go off. I wouldn’t take that risk, as well because we had Scott McTominay and Jonny Evans so we have good replacements.

“Don’t take the risk, take them off, I think it was the right decision. The performance from both [McTominay and Evans] was very good.”

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