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Hecking hails Naldo, Wolfsburg's Mr Reliable

Dieter Hecking said of Wolfsburg's match winner, "If there's anybody you can rely on, it's Naldo", while Louis van Gaal bemoaned Manchester United's propensity to concede after scoring.

Highlights: Wolfsburg 3-2 Man. United
Highlights: Wolfsburg 3-2 Man. United

Dieter Hecking, Wolfsburg coach
Congratulations to my team: they did a lot of what we had planned. We saw a great game, with everything at stake today. I would have liked us to take the lead with that chance we had, but then we had to stomach them scoring the first goal. But it was good we equalised quickly and then we had a great goal for 2-1 and could have got a third.

We had a bit of luck at times, but you need that when you are playing a quality side like Manchester United. I would have liked us to have been a bit more clinical with some counterattacks, and when Louis van Gaal sent on two players who are good in the air, and I knew it meant only one thing. But we deserved to win and deserved to reach the knockout rounds.

Naldo scores the winner
Naldo scores the winner©AFP/Getty Images

After the departures of Kevin [De Bruyne] and Ivan [Perišić], we knew it was not going to be easy and we'd need time to get back on track, and I think we have deserved some criticism. We've won all of our home games in the Champions League and you've got to do that if you want to go through – but this was not about atoning for what happened in the Bundesliga at the weekend [losing to Dortmund].

I took [Naldo] to one side this morning and told him it was time for him to score. He's improved as a player – he's like a good wine, maturing with age. He's enormously important for this team. It's a shame he got the third yellow card [and will miss the round of 16 first leg]. Maybe we would like him to be more of a leader, more responsible, but if there is anybody you can rely on, it's Naldo.

When I see who came second in their groups – Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Benfica – they are big teams, but we are also good and we've sent a message to the Champions League tonight. We've got to take it as it comes. We have a chance so we want to take it.

Draxler delight at Wolfsburg display
Draxler delight at Wolfsburg display

Louis van Gaal, Manchester United manager
It was a crazy match. After a few matches in which you don't score, then you score two goals but give one away within two minutes, twice – yes, that's difficult to understand when you defend so well normally. I'm happy that we have scored, but I'm not happy that we gave a goal away two times within two minutes. So I have to analyse why that happened because normally we are very good in that aspect.

I said in advance that this is a tight group and you see that in our results, but also our competitors are not what you think. It is always Manchester United who finish first or second in the group but I don't agree with your opinion that this was an easy group.

It's a matter of time because it cannot be this year – that [is what] I said to the players. Now it's over, you cannot show your qualities any more in the Champions League, the highest podium, and we can't do that. We now have to wait until next year, but we have got enough to fight for – the FA Cup and the Premier League.

Juan Mata reacts
Juan Mata reacts©Getty Images

We had to play the match with a lot of injuries and also the last 15 or 20 minutes with ten players. You have to analyse that the circumstances were not good for Manchester United to play this game, but it is difficult to understand that because the fans and the players, but also the manager wants to win every game. It's not like that – in sport you can lose also. It is of course a step backwards, but you have seen today also a lot of youngsters who played, in my opinion, very well.

At the moment I cannot defend myself because we are out of the Champions League. We are further in the League Cup; we qualified for the Champions League group stage; we played all of these matches and are still in a very good position in the league, so the facts are saying we are better than last year. So that's my answer because I can only give facts. I'm also disappointed that we are out of the Champions League, of course.