Home » Erik ten Hag’s half-time team talk & Antony substitution proved to be game-changers

Erik ten Hag’s half-time team talk & Antony substitution proved to be game-changers

by Ayantan Chowdhury

It was a famous night for Manchester United as they pipped Barcelona 2-1 on the night to progress to the Europa League Round of 16 4-3 on aggregate.

The away side took the lead courtesy a questionable penalty decision which Robert Lewandowski somehow managed to squeeze in despite David de Gea getting a touch.

Just like the Leicester City game at the weekend, Erik ten Hag must have had harsh words to say to his team and they came out with greater purpose in the second-half.

The manager was seen dining with the great Sir Alex Ferguson prior to the game and he would have been proud of the way the new boss manages to get a reaction from his players after the break.

Fred, who was relentless all night, equalised before substitute Antony scored what proved to be the winner as United hung on for dear life towards the end.

It was once again a tactical masterclass from the Dutchman which proved to make all the difference in the end.

He tried to gamble by playing Jadon Sancho as the playmaker behind Wout Weghorst in the first-half. But by shifting Bruno to the centre in the second-half, United got greater impetus and allowed him to find space in tight pockets.

That is exactly how he got his pass away for the Brazilian to shin the equaliser in with his weaker foot.

This season, United have refused to stay down despite getting hit and that was on display as they battled with greater ferocity in the second period.

And Ten Hag’s substitutes have had a great impact this season with 19 goals being scored by substitutes in all competitions this season, the most of any big five European league side in 2022-23.

Assistant coach Steve McClaren had said in an interview that Ten Hag can find solutions to any number of on-field problems and his Antony substitution proved inspired yet again.

When the manager decided to remove Sancho and bring on Antony, it once again changed the game completely.

The Brazilian winger fought for every ball and when the chance fell to him after great work by Fernandes, he did not snatch at it and caressed it past Marc-André ter Stegen,

The Red Devils will be celebrating a great result that will lift spirits all across the fanbase as the club heads towards Wembley on the weekend.

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