Man United began brightly, forcing Liverpool back and eventually taking the lead through Anthony Martial, which provided them with some vital impetus. Philipe Coutinho’s goal just before half time, however, essentially decided the tie as it finished 3-1 on aggregate.
Speaking after the game, the Dutchman pointed out that his side created enough chances to go through.
“It is very disappointing. We could have the chance, that is the feeling in the dressing room,” said van Gaal.
“We have created enough chances to win and we know that when you attack in this way that Liverpool has counter chances. The way that we conceded that goal, at half time they were all so disappointed. If we don’t concede that goal I think it was possible.”
Conceding on the brink of half time is arguably the most deflating thing that can happen to you on a football pitch. And, in Man United’s case, it was especially galling: going in at half time a goal ahead – and in the ascendancy – could have set up a grandstand finish. Indeed, the Dutchman’s side had a multitude of chances in the first half, and a similar onslaught in the second period might have pushed Jurgen Klopp’s men over the edge.
As it was, the second half was a miserable, benign affair, and United limped out of Europe with an air of gloomy acceptance that seems all to familiar of recent times at Old Trafford.