Martial praised despite 'stupid' mistake

Anthony Martial in full flight against CSKA Moscow. He made amends for conceding a penalty by heading home the 65th-minute equaliser in the 1-1 draw.
Anthony Martial in full flight against CSKA Moscow. He made amends for conceding a penalty by heading home the 65th-minute equaliser in the 1-1 draw.PHOTO: EPA

Van Gaal happy with draw, confident of two Champions League home games to come

MOSCOW • Louis van Gaal praised Anthony Martial for his equaliser against CSKA Moscow after the Manchester United manager admitted the attacker had been stupid for the handball that conceded a penalty and led to the Russian club's opener.

Martial committed the offence on 14 minutes as Mario Fernandes advanced in the area. Referee Carlos Velasco Carballo awarded the spot kick and while David de Gea saved the initial shot, Seydou Doumbia scored the follow-up.

Martial, though, did not allow his head to drop, van Gaal stated, and the 19-year-old old answered with a 65th-minute header.

It was the France striker's fifth goal in his ninth appearance since his £36 million (S$77.5 million) summer transfer from Monaco.

The share of the points at the Arena Khimki left United second in Group B on four. They are two behind Wolfsburg. CSKA also have four points, while PSV Eindhoven are a point adrift.

Said van Gaal: "(Martial) reacts and it is a stupid reaction, but sometimes these things happen. He said it is the first time it happens to him, if it always happens with me it's a pity. But I was very happy with his performance.

MARTIAL FORGIVEN

(Martial) reacts and it is a stupid reaction, but sometimes these things happen. He said it is the first time it happens to him, if it always happens with me it's a pity. But I was very happy with his performance.

LOUIS VAN GAAL

"I cannot complain about the spirit of my team. We started bad at Arsenal (before the international break), 3-0 behind, but which team can play like we have? We were 1-0 behind after a present of a goal, against a very organised team, but I only saw spirit towards the end and I am very proud of my players.

"I (am) happy with a draw - we now have two home matches and you can say we are very strong at home and I hope we can win these games so we are nearly qualified or qualified."

Former United midfielder Paul Scholes was not as pleased with the display as the Dutchman.

While United had 72 per cent of the ball, the hosts had more shots on target (four against three).Their use of the ball was often ponderous and there was little speed to their play, particularly in the first half.

In that period, United skipper Wayne Rooney had just 22 touches. The only Red Devil who had fewer was de Gea (19).

  • CSKA Moscow v Manchester United: Tony Cascarino's talking points

  • BORING, BORING UNITED

    Manchester United are so predictable and mechanical. Bastian Schweinsteiger has had a fine career but he always goes for the easy pass. No one is allowed to do something off the cuff. You do not expect to see a volleyed shot from 35 yards, or an overhead kick by Wayne Rooney. It is such a change from the past 21/2 decades.

    PLAY MARTIAL IN THE CENTRE

    I felt sorry for Anthony Martial on Wednesday. He spent most of the game standing on the left wing, yet he is a fine finisher - as he showed with the equaliser.

    He's a special talent who should be in the centre. In fact he is good enough to play the lone striker role.

    CSKA Moscow were dropping deep, which meant that United needed a pacey striker able to make darting runs between defenders, and Rooney is no longer that man.

    WHAT'S THE MATA WITH HIM?

    When United left Juan Mata on the bench last night it was a bit like Arsenal leaving out Petr Cech, their goalkeeper, from their first two Champions League games this season - and they paid a heavy price.

    You have an established, in-form player who has an eye for goal, is extremely creative, and is effective at cutting inside from the right and exchanging passes with Rooney. Jesse Lingard, his replacement, is promising but raw.

    THE TIMES, LONDON

"There is no movement, no quality. It's all safety playing across the pitch. I can't remember a pass in to Wayne Rooney," he told BT Sport at half-time. "Not one of the midfielders ever thinks about running (forward)."

He added after the match: "We could not play at a higher tempo and were too slow."

Van Gaal took off Bastian Schweinsteiger for Marouane Fellaini at half-time as the Dutchman was also concerned about his team's tempo. But even with Fellaini as a focal point for the attack, United failed to create any clearcut chances.

United midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin acknowledged that United had to be more creative in possession.

"We could have played a bit more direct sometimes, but we know that we can improve because we need to create a bit more," he said.

THE GUARDIAN, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 23, 2015, with the headline 'MARTIAL PRAISED DESPITE 'STUPID' MISTAKE'. Print Edition | Subscribe