Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has conceded that Cristiano Ronaldo became too isolated in Manchester United’s 2-1 defeat to Young Boys on Tuesday though felt he should have won a penalty.
The Red Devils took the lead in Bern in their opening Champions League group game after a wonderful outside-of-the-boot pass from Bruno Fernandes set up Ronaldo to fire home.
But Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s sending off just before half-time changed the dynamic of the match, with Solskjaer electing to bring on two defenders – Diogo Dalot and Raphael Varane – and switching to a back five for the second half.
Solskjaer was criticised for an overly defensive approach to the second half with Ronaldo cutting a very frustrated and isolated figure up front, and the United boss admits his side could have supported the 36-year-old more.
‘We should have done better with the ball, maybe,’ said the Norwegian coach at his post-match press conference.
‘We could have spread out more, maybe sent one of the midfielders up higher in support of Cristiano because he was lonely up there.’
Despite Ronaldo’s lack of impact in the second period, he very nearly scored a second goal after bursting in behind the defence only to be felled inside the box.
He appeared to receive a little nudge from Young Boys defender Mohamed Ali Camara though the referee waved play on and Solskjaer was not happy with the decision afterwards, claiming a more experienced referee would have given the penalty and brandished a red card.
He shoves him with his arm and it’s a clear [penalty],’ Solskjaer continued.
‘He’s one-on-one with the keeper, he’s in front of him. But [the referee] probably didn’t dare give it because then he had to send him off so it would have been difficult. That’s what you get sometimes with young refs.’
On the decision to sub off Ronaldo and Fernandes after 72 minutes, he added: ‘The game had gone 70-odd minutes, they had been running a lot on Saturday and today. We wanted Nemanja Matic’s experience to keep hold of the ball and Jesse Lingard’s legs.’