Valencia 2-1 Manchester United: Champions League – as it happened

  • United fail to take advantage of Juventus’ defeat

Mata interrogated by BT

Q: What was the game plan?

JM: “The game plan was to win.”

Q: How?

JM “I think to show our qualities and play as a team. Some players have not played a lot and it was a very good say for some players to get some minutes ... It was difficult. It’s a very passionate crowd. We reacted too late. We had some chances at the end but overall it’s disappointing because we know Juventus lost.”

Q: Are you hopeful this campaign will turn out well?

JM: “We have to wait and see who we play against. We have to believe we can beat whoever it is. We are Manchester United. It doesn’t matter if we play good or bad, we have to always keep believing and respect this club.”

Mourinho's verdict

Q: Why did United not take advantage of Juve’s slip-up?

JM: Why? First of all because we scored two goals and instead of winning 2-1 we lost 2-1. But jokes apart, I think we were too passive in the fist half. Quite comfortable with the ball but not with the intensity and ambition. In the second half I was pretty sure – after speaking at half-time – that things would be different. Btu we started with an own goal that gave Valencia a better position. I made the two changes later and the team improved immediately. We started playing faster, arriving with link play in more dangerous positions. We got to 2-1 and probably should have made it 2-2 because we had a couple of important chances.”

Q: How important is it now to beat Liverpool on Sunday?

“This is not about Liverpool today. This is about the Champions League, I don’t know why young bring Liverpool up. We go into every match with the intention of winning. Sometimes we do it, sometimes we don’t.”

Then he’s asked to sum up United’s European campaign so far. He says: “Job done in a difficult group. I don’t think we were brilliant in the group phase but we got enough points to qualify.”

Full-time: Valencia 2-1 United

Valencia deservedly finish their campaign on a high before heading into the Europa League, as United advance into the Champions League knockout stages with a whimper. Apart from a spurt towards the end , which culminated in a lovely goal by Rashford, United were miserable. They looked sluggish and dishevelled, devoid of intensity and real purpose. What turned out to be the decisive strike - an own goal by Jones after a failure of communication - summed up this performance by Mourinho’s team, who never really looked like a team.

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90+1 min: There will be at least two more minutes...

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90 min: Pogba dinks a splendid ball over the Valencia defence and into the path of Mata, who has to spin and take it on the volley. But he gets it all wrong and dabs the ball wide from eight yards. What that was! And why have United waited so long to start playing like this? “Look, it seems kind of strange to have to state this but perhaps Mourinho sent his troops out with the specific instruction to expend exactly zero energy in preparation for his glorious 0-0 triumph at Anfield on Sunday?” suggests Matthew Turner.

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89 min: Batshuyai stops and tries to curl the ball into the top corner of United’s goal from inside the D. It’s just over.

GOAL! Valencia 2-1 United (Rashford 86)

That’s an excellent goal, totally out of synch with what United had produced in the previous 85 minutes. They cut through Valencia with a lovely one-touch move before Lingard pulled the ball back for Young to cross and Rashford planted a header into the net from six yards.

Marcus Rashford pulls a goal back for the visitors.
Marcus Rashford pulls a goal back for the visitors. Photograph: Peter Cziborra/Action Images via Reuters

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85 min: Home fans are starting to leave.Guess beating this United side in a dead rubber isn’t the sort of exploit that demands staying around to cheer the team at the end.

83 min: Pogba tries a spectacular effort from way out out wide on the right. He gets fine curl an power on to it but the keeper pushes it away without much fuss.

81 min: Rashford booked for sliding late into Vezo.

79 min: Juve have cut the deficit in Switzerland and are now trailing 2-1. Still no sign of United putting up a fight here, though. “The referee is playing better off the ball than any United player,” notes Oshi i-Chi.

77 min: Corner to United. Young swings it in. Jones gets up well but nods just wide.

75 min: Perreira lets fly from 25 yards and it’s a brilliant effort. It swirls fast through the air and forces a smart one-handed save by Domench.

73 min: Batshuayi shows nimble feet to skip free to the byline and clips a dainty ball across the face of goal. Bailly does well to get it away.

71 min: This performance by United is reminiscent of their defeat at Brighton last season, when Mourinho gave some fringe players a chance to stake a claim for the FA Cup final and none did so. Afterwards the manager said something to the effect of “I didn’t succeed in convincing them this was an important match”. I wouldn’t be surprised if he said something similar after this feeble display. Then again, he might not want to acknowledge how often this is happening under him.

Valencia’s Carlos Soler tussles with Manchester United’s Ashley Young.
Valencia’s Carlos Soler tussles with Manchester United’s Ashley Young. Photograph: Peter Cziborra/Action Images via Reuters

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69 min: Juve are now trailing 2-0 to Young Boys. But United keep playing like Broken Men.

United substitution: Lingard on, Lukaku off.

Valencia substitution: Rodrigo on, Mina off.

67 min: Torres had a bang from 25 yards. It whizzes over the bar.

66 min: Pogba pings a pass into Lukaku in the centre of the Valencia box. THe striker hold it up well and then tries to lay it back to a teammate at the edge of the area, but Mina intercepts.

Valencia substitution: Torres on, Cheryshev off. Tores is 18.

63 min: Valencia pass and move through United’s midfield with a precision and zest that the visitors have lacked entirely. They make it all the way to the edge of the United area until Bailly cuts out an attempted through-ball by Kondogbia. A third goal for Valencia is looking far more likely than a comeback by United, who have been an utter shower.

61 min: Young is worked into a promising crossing position on the left. But he deposits the ball into the keeper’s arms.

59 min: Valencia still looking comfortable, with all their players on the same wavelength. After a decent move Soler clips a cross towards the back post, where Batshuayi can’t guide his header on to the target.

United substitution: Rashford on, Fred of. There was no lack of effort from Fred, who hinted at progressive contributions but couldn’t back up his good intent with accurate use of the ball. The last straw for Mourinho may have been the sight of Fred donking the ball straight out of play from the centre circle when attempting to pass to no-one-knows-who.

56 min: Pogba akes a clever run down the left and plays in a nice cross with the outside of his right boot. Diakhaby intervenes to put it behind for a corner.

Paul Pogba of Manchester United surges forward as Valencia’s Michy Batshuayi looks on.
Paul Pogba of Manchester United surges forward as Valencia’s Michy Batshuayi looks on. Photograph: Soccrates Images/Getty Images

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55 min: Individually and collectively, United have been awful. Their build up is slow and haphazard and their passing woeful. It’s not clear what they’re trying to do. They just don’t look like a team.

53 min: Valencia tear through ramshackle United again, Piccini leading the charge down the right. Bailly half-clears the cross, then Cheryshev’s shot from 20 yards is deflected out.

51 min: Fred creates space in midfield with a neat shuffle but he can’t find Lukaku with his attempted pass.

Valencia substitution: Garay on, Lato off

GOAL! Valencia 2-0 Unied (Jones og 47)

Dear oh dear. Soler cut through midfield yet again before slipping a pass towards Batshuayi. Jones beast the striker to it and then tries to stroke it back to Romero from just outside the box. But he was so panicky that he hadn’t noticed that Romero had surged off his line and was heading towards him. The wrongfooted keeper can only turn his head and watch the ball roll into the empty net. A total lack of communication and awareness at the back by United, especially Jones.

Phil Jones of Manchester United scores an own goal to make it 2-0.
Phil Jones of Manchester United scores an own goal to make it 2-0. Photograph: Kieran McManus/BPI/Rex/Shutterstock
Phil Jones of Manchester United reacts after he scores an own goal.
Doh! Photograph: Dan Mullan/Getty Images

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46 min: So then, let’s see how Mourinho’s team-talk, and the knowledge that top spot in the group may be up for grabs, has done for United. He’s also made a personnel change, with Ashley Young coming on for Rojo, who struggled badly at left-back in the first period.

“Coo, the body language of Lukaku and the lads in that snap looks awful, ‘end of the world is nigh’ kind of stuff,” chimes in William Hargreaves. “Is the way they deport themselves in the game along the same lines? Hashtag ‘Christmas has been stolen’.” Well that was taken just after Valencia scored so they were entitled to look crestfallen. But yes, there has been a general lack of confidence and conviction from United overall. And they’re slow, so very slow.

“How has Pogba played?” asks Tony Arthurs. He has been no better or worse than his teammates in general play, but he was guilty of one awful miss from close range after a misplaced header by Fellaini fell to hm.

Half-time: Valencia 1-0 United

With Juventus losing at Young Boys, United could go top of the group if they turn this match around, but there has been absolutely no suggestion here that they are capable of doing that. Valencia have been much better. It has been a nothing performance from United. They have looked sluggish and poorly drilled and not one player has made a convincing case to start more regularly. Might as well give Garner and Greenwood a run.

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45+2 min: Mayhem in the United box as Valencia tip-toe around them. The visitors eventually scramble it away.

45 min: There will be at least two more minutes before United get to go into the dressing room and take a cold shower to wake themselves up.

44 min: Another cutting over by Valencia. Cheryshev carries it down the left and then plays it in-field to Mina, who holds off Fred and serves Batshuyai. The striker tries to lash it into the net from the edge of the area but, with Rojo closing in, has to rush his shot and rams it over the bar.

42 min: Fellaini digs out a useful cross from the left. But United don’t have enough players in the box, and Valencia clear easily.

40 min: Fred is starting to perk up in midfield for United and making some strong runs.

38 min: Jones charges over to challenge Mina near the right touchline and sells himself completely. Mina twists away and feeds Soler, who feints past Fellaini before Fred and Bailly combine to stop him.

36 min: Fellaini gets his head to the corner but misdirects it. But it could work out nicely because Pogba is free at the back post, perfectly positioned to reroute it towards the net. But he pokes it into the sidenetting. Let’s be charitable and say he knew the linesman had his flag up for offside (incorrectly, as it happens).

Paul Pogba of Manchester United shoots wide from yards out.
Paul Pogba of Manchester United shoots wide from yards out. Photograph: Kieran McManus/BPI/Rex/Shutterstock
Manchester United’s Paul Pogba reacts after his miss.
Pogba reacts after his miss. Photograph: Alberto Saiz/AP

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35 min: Some zippy interplay from United at last. Pogba, Fred and Mata all involved before Mata’s cross is put behind for a corner.

33 min: Parejo sends a corner way beyond the far post. Soler retrieves it and knocks it back across the face. United scramble it away but it comes straight back, and Diakhaby throws himself at it in a bid to touch it into the net from close range. But Fellaini does just enough to put him off.

32 min: Valencia make inroads down the right again and deliver a fantastic cross. Batshuyai must score ... but no! He heads over from six yards after making smart run between the centrebacks. Lucky United!

31 min: Here’s a turn-up: Young Boys have taken the lead against Juve. If that stays the same, United can top the group by mounting a comeback here. Neither prospect looks likely at the moment, though.

30 min: The keeper comes to claim the freekick near the penalty spot. Bailly leaps to challenge him even though he can’t get the ball. The keeper goes down in a heap. Bailly gets a booking. It was a foul but hardly worth a card.

Valencia’s keeper Jaume Domenech catches the ball as Manchester United’s Eric Bailly clatters into him.
Valencia’s keeper Jaume Domenech catches the ball as Manchester United’s Eric Bailly clatters into him. Photograph: José Jordan/AFP/Getty Images

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29 min: Lato yellow-carded for a rash foul, giving Mata a chance to float in a freekick from the left wing.

27 min: A mistake by a defender resents Mata with a useful shooting opportunity. It’s from a difficult angle and the midfielder is under pressure, but he fires off a shot while falling. Diakhaby does well to block it out for a corner.

25 min: Valencia are happy to let United knock it around the back. Once the visitors try to venture further forward, their moves tend to unravel. There’s no speed or ingenuity on display from them at all.

22 min: Bailly and Rojo join forces to shut down Mina, who thought he was about to collect a decent ball over the top.

21 min: After some useless possession from United, Valencia nick the ball off them and hurtle forward. The hosts look much more lively, if not especially great.

18 min: No sign of a reaction from United yet. “Ah Mr Doyle, I see you are on Spanish English duty again,” begins a man called Martyn. “A few words of thanks for providing me, a Spurs man, with some calm updates yeserday as I sat fretting, amongst the Barca fans, in the Camp Nou yesterday as spurs appeared to miss chance after chance, even though our post was rattled twice. I leapt out of my seat when we scored and met with no grief, only a warm shake of the hands and the words it’s logical, and was then guided through the last fews mins of the inter game on the Spanish Marca MBM. In what has been bad week for football, banana skins, Raheem abuse etc it reaffirmed what a force for good the game is if people behave with a modicum of perspective and civility. Have a good evening.” What a gent, eh! But am I to understand that you went all the way to the Camp Nou to follow the match by MBM?

GOAL! Valencia 1-0 United (Soler 16)

Jones intercepts a cross from the right but heads it only as far as Soler, who takes a touch and swipes a terrific low shot with the outside of his right foot into the bottom corner from 12 yards.

Valencia’s Carlos Soler fires the home side into the lead.
Valencia’s Carlos Soler fires the home side into the lead. Photograph: Peter Cziborra/Action Images via Reuters

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14 min: The thinking when United’s lineup was revealed as that they’d be deployed in a 4-3-3 but it’s working out as more of a 4-1-4-1, with Fellaini stationed in front of the defence and Lukaku on his lonesome up front. If the lay behid the Belgian continues to be as stodgy, he’s in for a joyless day.

13 min: It’s slow and messy.

10 min: Valencia are temporarily down to 10 men as their left-back is off the pitch receiving treatment. United tap the ball around at a leisurely pace, going nowhere fast. Maybe that’s them being sporting. Honk!

8 min: The tempo of the early seconds has dropped, sad to say. Especially from United. It’s all starting to look a little dull.

5 min: Valencia play some tidy stuff in mindfield before Mina tries to send Batshuyai clear. He overhits his pass, but the striker applauds his intention.

3 min: Mina drives over a cross from the left. Romero dives through bodies to try to smother it. He does enough to clear.

1 min: Off we go. And in the opening seconds the pace is brisk and everyone looks eager for the ball. Rojo seems to be at left-back, Perreira in central midfield.

Here comes the teams. The hosts are in all white, while United sport their red jerseys with black shorts and white socks. By the sounds of it, the Mestalla is full and folks are mighty excited about what they are going to witness.

Mourinho speaks

Asked what he hopes for today, Mourinho chuckles and replies: “I hope that Juventus doesn’t win and we win. But seriously, I don’t believe much that Juventus doesn’t win, but I have to believe that despite the many changes we make, people will try to motivate themselves ... and we will get a good result.” Specifically about Pogba and Lukaku, he says he wants them to use the match “to get their confidence levels back”.

Earlier to day United’s U-19s came from behind to beat Valencia 2-1 in the Uefa Youth League. And by, do we mean youth: in the 74th minute United’s manager, Nicky Butt, sent on substitute named Shola Shoretire. His age? 14 years and 314 days old. I was still struggling to get to grips with Subbuteo at that age.

“Valencia is playing against Valencia—it’s clearly going to be a draw, then,” quips Ric Arthur from Toronto. A reference there Unied’s right-back, making his third Champions League appearance of the season, which is one fewer than he has made in the Premier League.

Teams

Pogba, Perreira, Valencia and Lukaku all return as Mourinho makes eight changes to the lineup that started last Saturday’s stroll around Fulham. Youngster James Garner and Mason Greenwood are on the bench. Meanwhile, Valencia give a rare outing to goalkeeper Jaume Domenech and left-back Lato

Valencia: Domenech; Piccini, Ruben Vezo, Diakhaby, Lato; Soler, Kondogbia, Parejo, Cheryshev; Batshuayi, Mina

Subs: Neto, Coquelin, Wass, Rodrigo, Torres, Garay, Lee

United: Romero; Valencia, Jones, Bailly Rojo; Fellaini, Fred, Pogba; Mata, Lukaku, Pereira

Subs: Grant, Rashford, Lingard, Young, Herrera, Garner, Greenwood

Referee: G Kabakov (Bul)

Preamble

Hello. Meaningless matches don’t exist for Manchester United, especially not these days. Nothing much is at stake here in terms of qualification for the knockout stages because United are already through, most probably as runners-up in Group H unless Young Boys today do to Juventus something even more shocking than PSV did to Inter yesterday, and Valencia already have a spot in the Europa League. But if United merely go through the motions here, then José Mourinho can expect more flak, as can certain players. Paul Pogba’s performance will be particularly interesting, assuming Mourinho was not fibbing about giving him a start.

The midfielder is said to have been shocked at being dropped for United’s last two matches but his team did fine without him. So how will he respond? Produce his best and vindicate Mourinho but probably regain a starting place for the weekend’s showdown with Liverpool? Or drift through the game like an unhappy soul searching for a more understanding environment? Andreas Pereira is another interesting case: he is scheduled to make his first start since his dreadful display at Brighton in August. Perhaps this will be a more comfortable setting for him, given that he spent last season on loan at Valencia and did well.

Yes indeed, there are some intriguing personal plots to be played out here. What’s more, United are aiming for a third away European away win in a row, which would be a nice feat for Mourinho to drop into conversation before taking on Liverpool, who lost all three of theirs so far this season. And there’s always the slim chance that Juve will muck up against Young Boys and United could leapfrog them to the top of the group. So you see, this match is definitely worth following. Yes indeed!