"It was a lack of composure more than quality," mused Wayne Rooney after Manchester United drew 0-0 with PSV Eindhoven, Davy Pröpper saying the visitors got their tactics right.
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Old Trafford witnessed Manchester United's seventh clean sheet in nine matches last night but that statistic was scant consolation to home fans and players alike after a frustrating 90 minutes against PSV Eindhoven.
The 0-0 stalemate meant United failed to secure qualification for the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League as they lacked the wit to open up a compact, well-organised PSV side, leaving captain Wayne Rooney to bemoan a missed opportunity.
"Probably the result was a fair one," he said. "In the first half we were the better team and created a few decent chances, and maybe were unlucky not to come in at the break one up. [In the] second half we didn't show enough composure on the ball, they changed their system and made it difficult for us and we failed to adapt to that. It is a disappointing result overall and leaves us with a tough game in Germany now, but we believe we can go there and win."
Although Anthony Martial drew a couple of first-half saves from Jeroen Zoet and Jesse Lingard shot over from close range when well placed in the second half, United lost their way as the game went on and Rooney cited a lack of composure as their main problem.
"In the second half it was a lack of composure more than quality. There were occasions we could have put our foot on the ball and controlled it a bit more but we were a bit panicky at times."
United's failure to win caused them to slip to second in Group B behind a Wolfsburg side they must visit, and probably beat, on 8 December. "We know it is going to be difficult over there," said winger Ashley Young.
"We should have won the game," he added. "In the second half it became open – they had chances but with the chances we created we felt we should have won so there is a lot of disappointment."
That disappointment was clear to see on the faces of the United players as they left the pitch. Not for the first time this season the cry of "Attack, attack" had rung around the ground during the match and PSV midfielder Davy Pröpper admitted that the visitors had identified United's offensive problems as something to exploit.
"We stayed compact and on the counter we had our chances," he said. "We know United have some difficulty with their build-up [and] before the match we looked at their games and this year they have had a lot of ball possession but sometimes difficulty creating chances."
As a result, PSV sat back and frustrated them before coming into the game in the second half. "All the players had the feeling we were right in the match," added Pröpper. "We fought for each other [and] because [United] didn't create so many big chances we had a feeling we could get something."
From the perspective of Phillip Cocu's side it was a highly satisfying night's work as they got their first Group B away point and kept their qualifying hopes alive. Just a point behind United in third place, they host CSKA Moskva in their last group fixture and victory would ensure progress. "At home we have had good results [with two wins]," said Pröpper. "We are confident about the next match."
Pröpper also sang the praises of his fellow midfielder Andrés Guardado, who produced a man-of-the-match display, covering more distance and making more passes than any other PSV player. "He is amazing," said the 24-year-old. "He has experience, he covers a lot of ground, he is calm on the ball and we can always give him the ball and that is very important."