Soccer

Guardiola blames two clearcut misses that cost Man Utd in Champions League group

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has laid blame at the feet of Anthony Martial for Manchester United’s failure to progress to the knockout stages of the Champions League.

The dig at the French forward came 24 hours prior to the Manchester derby at Old Trafford.

Martial, who sat out the 3-2 defeat to RB Leipzig on Tuesday with a minor injury, is back for the crunch game on Saturday.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could well bring him back into the starting XI too, but Guardiola has given him food for thought ahead of kick off.

The City boss has reminded Martial of his failure to put the ball in the back of the net when PSG visited last week.

His clear misses, which included him blazing over the crossbar with pretty much the whole goal to aim at early in the second half against the Ligue 1 champions, were costly.

PSG went on to win 3-1 in Manchester after Fred had been sent off, and United have now ultimately dropped into the Europa League.

Things could look very different for under-pressure Solskjaer had Martial not wasted his chances, and Guardiola appears to have attempted to get in his head.

When asked if too much was being made of United failing to get through their tough group, Guardiola did reply: "Absolutely.

"But what is not going to change is the margin to be in the next round or be out in the group stages.”

On United’s forward, he continued: “Against PSG, [Anthony] Martial has two clear chances, one without the 'keeper and another one with just a defender on the line, and he missed it.

"At Leipzig, with the cross from [Paul] Pogba with [Harry] Maguire at the second post to score a goal, the opponent intercepts and the keeper saves the ball because he found it behind his legs. It would be 3-3 and it would be about the spirit and character and personality of United.

"This is the Champions League – we have to accept it. The margins at this level are so high and that is why big teams can be out.

"That's why always when we win one game in the group stages, I say to the players 'well done, guys, it's so difficult and you make an incredible job'.

"In the Premier League, it's the same. Every game you are able to win is so complicated, so difficult."

Martial will look to bounce back from his PSG torment and injury last weekend at West Ham by showing Guardiola he can convert in the big moments.

The 25-year-old is likely to feature, especially with striker Edinson Cavani potentially out still.

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