Scott McTominay

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‘We nullified them:’ Smalling, Man Utd confident after 1-0 loss to Barca

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Barcelona scored a goal, then absorbed foul after foul while allowing Manchester United’s home crowd very little to enjoy in Wednesday’s first leg of a UEFA Champions League tie.

Manchester United midfielder Scott McTominay was happy to be down just a goal against Lionel Messi and company, but admitted frustration at his side not being able to find the back of the net in the 1-0 loss.

[ RECAP: Man Utd 0-1 Barca ]

“We have to do more in front of goal, score more goals. It’s a big second leg to go. It’s only half time. We are Manchester United and you can never write us off.”

As for the defense, outspoken United back Chris Smalling was bullish on his team’s evening.

“The whole team, we nullified them,” Smalling said. “I think there was only one other save for David De Gea. We knew we had to bring that intensity that they’re not used to.”

Not sure Smalling understands what nullified means, though United was very physical and both teams brought plenty of anger to the tackles, but the swagger is back at Manchester United.

Or at least the players’ willingness to express it in public.

Wolves top 10-man Man Utd (video)

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  • United remains fifth in Premier League
  • Wolves a point ahead of 8th place Watford
  • McTominay scores first PL goal
  • United out-attempts Wolves 18-9 in loss

Ashley Young was sent off and Chris Smalling scored an own goal as 10-man Manchester United blew an early lead and lost 2-1 to Wolves at the Molineux Stadium on Tuesday.

Diogo Jota scored for Wolves, who remain in control of the race for 7th place and a potential spot in the Europa League.

Wolves continue its season control of United after drawing them at Old Trafford and knocking the Red Devils out of the FA Cup.

Scott McTominay scored his first Premier League goal in the loss, as United is level on points with fourth place Spurs. Tottenham plays Wednesday at home versus Crystal Palace.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Romelu Lukaku pounded a header right at well-stationed Rui Patricio off a strong 5th minute opportunity.

McTominay delivered on United’s early promise, taking a square ball from Fred about 22 yards from goal and dragging a low shot across Patricio and inside the far post.

Patricio made a fine save to deny Lingard’s header of a chipped Lukaku cross in the 17th.

Wolves wouldn’t trail for long, unlocking United through the magnificent Jimenez’s pass to Jota and a fine finish.

Leander Dendoncker popped an unchallenged shot over the bar in the 31st as Wolves bid for their first lead of the night.

Lukaku and Paul Pogba combined well, the Frenchman using a faked shot to slip the Belgian to about 8 yards out. Lukaku dragged his effort wide of the goal.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Patricio made an outstanding save on McTominay in the 55th, keeping the deadlock in tact.

Ashley Young was sent off by Mike Dean in the 57th minute when he hit Jota with a studs-up tackle and picked up his second yellow card in less than five minutes.

It was a milestone moment.

Wolves then went ahead when Phil Jones headed a ball off Jimenez’s legs, and David De Gea couldn’t find it before Chris Smalling punched it across his own goal line.

McTominay had another low drive pushed out for a corner kick in the 78th, but it was Wolves who repeatedly missed chances to score including Ivan Cavaleiro‘s stoppage time rip off the bar.

Solskjaer calls Man United defender McTominay a ‘Darren Fletcher’

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was over the moon with how his players performed in difficult circumstances against league-leading Liverpool in their 0-0 draw at Old Trafford, which was marred by a slew of first-half injuries.

Solskjaer, a former Manchester United striker and current interim manager, has made a name for himself in recalling old names and moments in Red Devils history during his two-plus months in charge. He did so again while pointing out players he was particularly pleased with on Sunday.

“I learned a lot about the players today,” Solskjaer told the Manchester Evening News after the match. “I learnt a lot about Scott McTominay, who I’ve been waiting to give a chance in a more attacking role, he can run into the box, is dangerous, he was a Darren Fletcher today for us. Absolutely fantastic, he’s not played since Reading, that’s six weeks ago, January 5.”

[ MORE: 3 things we learned from Man United v Liverpool ]

That is incredibly high praise from the United boss. Darren Fletcher is a Manchester United folk hero, having made over 300 career appearances for the club over a 12-year span. He was a do-it-all midfielder who was loved by fans for his bold attitude and fearless nature in the middle of the pitch.

McTominay, a 22-year-old Manchester United youth product and natural center-back, was put under pressure when Ander Herrera and Juan Mata both went off injured. McTominay was deployed as a defensive midfielder just in front of the back line that featured Victor Lindelof and Chris Smalling, but had to adapt on the introductions of Andreas Pereira, Jesse Lingard, and Alexis Sanchez. The young Scottish international made seven ball recoveries to lead Manchester United in the match, and had two blocks, three clearances, and two interceptions.

Solskjaer was also pleased with Pereira, who had played just 220 minutes this Premier League season before Sunday. Like McTominay, Pereira is a Manchester United youth product who has been given only a bit-part role in his time since joining the first-team squad. “Andreas, with the criticism he’s had to come on and did fantastic,” Solskjaer said. “So I learnt a lot about the character of the team.”

Matic misses Liverpool fight, out for weeks

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Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic suffered “a nasty knock” in training Saturday and will miss 2-4 weeks of action

Matic, 30, has started every match since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took the reins at United.

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He’s been replaced by Scott McTominay for Sunday’s match versus Liverpool, with Fred joining the bench to provide cover.

Ander Herrera could also slide into a more defensive role, but the Spaniard has been very good with increased attacking freedom under Solskjaer.

In addition to the Liverpool visit, United’s next month of fixtures includes the second leg of a UEFA Champions League tie with Paris Saint-Germain as well as league tests from Crystal Palace, Southampton, Arsenal and Wolves.

Mourinho: ‘It’s not about me’ after Man Utd come back

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He’d be fired regardless of Saturday’s result, they said.

Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United came back from a 2-0 deficit to pick up a 3-2 win over Newcastle United at Old Trafford on Saturday.

[ RECAP: Man Utd 3-2 Newcastle ]

The win moved the Red Devils eighth with 13 points heading into the international break, and a meeting at old haunt Stamford Bridge on Oct. 20 before a reunion with Cristiano Ronaldo and Juventus in the Champions League.

Frankly, they needed this. And Mourinho was feeling it.

“I go to London tonight, if it rains in London tomorrow, it’s my fault. If there is some difficulty to have the agreements with Brexit, it’s my fault,” mused the Man Utd manager. “And I have to be ready for all of this. I think weakness and the clear manhunting in football is too much.”

Mourinho pushed the right buttons, making a big sub after going down by a pair of goals inside of 10 minutes. That one, Juan Mata, scored, and third sub Alexis Sanchez notched the winner in the 90th minute.

Fellow sub Marouane Fellaini laid out Mourinho’s halftime message.

“The manager asked us to be men and to not be afraid and just play,” Fellaini said. “That’s what we did.”

The wheels on the bus did run over two of Mourinho’s youngsters, who he subbed off.

Marcus Rashford was sad, Scott McTominay was scared on the pitch,” the manager said.

Now, with Chelsea and Juventus ahead, Mata and Co. are looking forward to the next challenge.

“It is relief and we feel that we got what we needed,” he said. “In football, results fix everything.”

Here’s more from Mou: