MX23RW : Friday, September 20 21:18:32| >> :600:25588334:25588334:

Fellaini and Smalling switch focus to Premier League form

Fellaini and Smalling switch focus to Premier League form
© Reuters
United progressed to the knockout stage of the Champions League with victory over Young Boys.

Marouane Fellaini and Chris Smalling are focused on climbing the Premier League standings after edging through to the Champions League knockout phase with a match to spare.

Tuesday night appeared to be going the same way as Saturday’s tepid 0-0 draw with struggling Crystal Palace, with the Old Trafford faithful growing impatient as their side toiled against Young Boys.

But Fellaini saved their blushes in stoppage time to secure a 1-0 win that propelled United into the round of 16 with a match to spare thanks to next month’s opponents Valencia losing at Juventus in the other Group H match.

Marouane Fellaini (second right) spared United's blushes against Young Boys
Marouane Fellaini (second right) spared United’s blushes against Young Boys (Martin Rickett/PA)

Early progress means Mourinho’s men can increase their focus on turning around their poor league form, with Saturday’s trip to embattled Southampton looking like the perfect opportunity to claw back the gap to the top four.

“I think the mood is good,” Fellaini said after his goalscoring heroics.

“The players are happy, but the most important thing now is to focus on Saturday and three points.

“It’s always difficult to come back from the national team. Now we have a full week of training. All the players are ready to compete and start Saturday.

“Criticism is part of football, but we have to work. We are a team, we are together, and give everything too. Together we have to move forward and take the points.”

Smalling echoed his team-mates’ sentiments after narrowly edging past Young Boys.

“We had two targets speaking before that Palace game: getting back into that top four and qualifying,” he said. “We’ve qualified now and now it’s all about our league form.”

Even given Saints’ well-documented problems, United cannot afford to play as they did at home to Palace and Young Boys.

Mourinho let out his pent-up anger on some water bottle carriers, kicking one and throwing another, after Fellaini’s late winner, with Smalling suggesting a lack of confidence played its part on Tuesday.

“We played well against them away, but we knew that at home they were going to be hard to break down,” he said of a side United managed to beat 3-0 in Switzerland.

“I think we created a lot of chances and it was deserved but they made us work for that.

“We created some good chances – not just half chances – and I think heads can dip when a few of those don’t go in.

“You could see the relief in our faces knowing that we had qualified and not have to go to Valencia and really make it hard for ourselves.”

It was, in truth, a night that brought more questions than answers, but there was the positive of a second successive clean sheet for United – albeit thanks in no small part to David De Gea’s wonderful second-half save.

View this post on Instagram

💯 #DaveSaves #MUFC

A post shared by Manchester United (@manchesterunited) on

“The partnerships keep changing but it was another clean sheet and I think we need to get back to where we were in the last couple of years when we were very hard to break down,” defensive mainstay Smalling said, having paired up with Phil Jones with Victor Lindelof injured.

“It’s not ideal (to change centre-backs).

“I think you can see when you have a consistent partnership you can see there is less chances being given away.

“It is what it is and it’s something that we get used to and we’re used to playing with each other in training.”

When contacted on Wednesday evening UEFA said it had not opened a disciplinary case against Mourinho regarding his actions against the water bottles.

ga('create', 'UA-72310761-1', 'auto', {'name': 'pacontentapi'});
ga('pacontentapi.set', 'referrer', location.origin);
ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension1', 'By Simon Peach, Press Association Chief Football Writer');
ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension2', '9bebba7c-783f-45cc-a440-f1168362678e');
ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension3', 'paservice:sport,paservice:sport:club-news,paservice:sport:football,paservice:sport:uk,paservice:sport:world');
ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension6', 'story');
ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension7', 'composite');
ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension8', null);
ga('pacontentapi.set', 'dimension9', 'sport:football');
ga('pacontentapi.send', 'pageview', { 'location': location.href, 'page': (location.pathname + location.search + location.hash), 'title': 'Fellaini and Smalling switch focus to Premier League form'});

body check tags ::

Click here for more stories about Marouane Fellaini

Click here for more stories about Manchester United

Share this article now:
Instagram - Follow Sports Mole

Loading ...

Failed to load data.

Loading ...

Failed to load data.

Select and display your favourite team's news and scores in this panel

Loading ...

Failed to load data.

Loading ...

Failed to load data.

Select and display your favourite team's news and scores in this panel
/esi/758/0/index.html - esi:0:site:0:-p-: {0}: - :T758:-: {0}: < ! - - T  758 {0} - - >  : 
Premier League
Rugby World Cup
La Liga
Serie A
Bundesliga
Ligue 1
Primeira Liga
Eredivisie
Turkish Super Lig
Belgian Pro League
Russian Premier League
Ukrainian Premier League
Danish Superliga
Swedish Allsvenskan
Segunda Division
Serie B
2.Bundesliga
Ligue 2
Eerste Divisie
Welsh Premier League
Argentine Primera Division
Liga MX
Chinese Super League
Premier League 2 - Div 1
Premier League 2 - Div 2
Premiership Rugby Cup
Super League Playoffs
Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Liverpool55001541115
2Manchester CityMan City53111661010
3Bournemouth63121010010
4Tottenham HotspurSpurs522111658
5Manchester UnitedMan Utd52218448
6Leicester CityLeicester52216428
7Chelsea5221111108
8Arsenal52218808
9West Ham UnitedWest Ham522167-18
10Southampton621368-27
11Everton521257-27
12Crystal Palace521236-37
13Norwich CityNorwich5203912-36
14Burnley512267-15
15Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd512256-15
16Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton512258-35
17Aston Villa511346-24
18Newcastle UnitedNewcastle511348-44
19Wolverhampton WanderersWolves5032610-43
20Watford5023410-62

Subscribe to our Newsletter


Transfer Talk Daily
Match previews - twice weekly
Morning Briefing (7am UTC)
Ultra close-up image of Kevin De Bruyne [NOT FOR USE IN ARTICLES]Get the latest transfer news, match previews and news direct to your inbox!

Loading ...

Failed to load data.

Loading ...

Failed to load data.

Select and display your favourite team's news and scores in this panel
Login, I already have my ad-free pass
Log in to customise Sports Mole
Buy ad-free access (show me the options)
Buy monthly ad-free access for £1.20/month
Buy yearly ad-free access for £12 (2 months free)
Settings - Logout - Manage your account
Settings - Logout - Manage your account