Erik ten Hag explains Man Utd substitutions and hints at Marcus Rashford return

Erik ten Hag has defended his substitutions in Manchester United’s 2-2 draw against Sevilla on Thursday night while he has hinted that Marcus Rashford could return sooner than expected.

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The Red Devils appeared to be in complete control in their Europa League quarter-final first-leg tie, cutting open the Spanish side at will in the first half and taking a two-goal lead into the break courtesy of a brace from Marcel Sabitzer.

However, Ten Hag made a triple substitution shortly after the hour-mark, before maxing out his five subs soon after, which seemed to hinder United’s dominance and disrupt their rhythm.

Sevilla equalised not long after United’s fifth sub and Lisandro Martinez then picked up a serious-looking injury which reduced the side to 10 men, with a Harry Maguire own goal in stoppage time leaving the tie finely poised.

With Bruno Fernandes and Antony both on bookings, Anthony Martial returning from injury and Raphael Varane picking up a knock, Ten Hag says he had no choice but to make a host of changes and felt his much-changed side still could have netted a third, game-killing goal.

Asked if his substitutions cost United the match, Ten Hag replied: ‘I had to make them. There was no other way.

‘Rapha was injured was the first half I had to make, then Martial was his first start after a long period so we had to make on the 60 [minute].

‘Then Bruno I got the warning from the refs he was short before second booking and same with Antony. I had to make the subs, I had no choice.

‘But I think we still controlled the game and we have to score the third goal. It was good action from Pelli [Facundo Pellistri] and Ty [Malacia] has big chance to make it 3-0.

‘In last 10 minutes of the game everything was against us. We have to be more smart. We concede the first goal and then the injury to Licha but both goals were unlucky they were deflected. Sometimes you have bad luck. Tonight was not our night.’

Asked if the subs caused United to lose momentum, he added: ‘No I don’t think so. I think the second half we had opportunities and I can’t remember that they created a chance but we created chances.

‘Antony three times and with the [crossbar] also with Malacia. We had opportunities for the third goal but in the last 10 minutes everything was against us.’

Top scorer Rashford missed the match through injury and watched from the stands at Old Trafford; United initially gave a vague timeline on when he would return, though Ten Hag has now suggested he might be back in time for the trip to Seville.

‘There is a chance but I can’t confirm it in this moment,’ he replied when asked if Rashford could play in the second leg.

Ten Hag also hinted that Luke Shaw may be back in contention, before adding: ‘I have an idea of who can play on Sunday [against Nottingham Forest] but first we have to see tomorrow and also to talk with medical team to see who came out of the game and then we have a plan and we will bring a good team on the pitch.’

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