Fri. Jan 15th, 2021

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Solskjaer admits Fred was ‘lucky’ not to see red for headbutt but defends decision not to sub him

4 min read

Manchester United‘s Champions League hopes are hanging in the balance after they lost at home to a Neymar-inspired Paris Saint-Germain on a night that Fred saw red.

The 3-1 defeat at Old Trafford means United now travel to RB Leipzig next Tuesday with the top three teams in Group H level on nine points going into the final round of fixtures.

‘We’ve got to dust ourselves off and be ready for Leipzig,’ said manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Fred received a second yellow card when he played the the ball in a tackle on Ander Herrera

Fred received a second yellow card when he played the the ball in a tackle on Ander Herrera

‘We know our destiny is in our own hands. We’re playing a good team but we’re developing into a better team as well.’ 

Solskjaer faced questions over his decision to keep Fred on the pitch even though the Brazilian was lucky to escape a red card for appearing to headbutt Leandro Paredes, and a second yellow for a strong tackle on Herrera.

Fred was finally sent off by Italian referee Daniele Orsato in the 70th minute when he was harshly ajudged to have fouled former United teammate Ander Herrera.

Fred (not pictured) was shown a red card for a second bookable offence in the second-half

Fred (not pictured) was shown a red card for a second bookable offence in the second-half

‘I thought he was a bit lucky to stay on when the referee decided to give him anything,’ admitted Solskjaer.

‘Fred shouldn’t put his head towards him. I don’t think he touched him but you don’t so that. He was a bit lucky. It’s either nothing or red card.

‘We spoke about staying calm and staying your feet and the second yellow was nowhere near a foul – and Ander knows that as well.

‘It wasn’t a foul. Fred played really disciplined second half but when he makes a tackle light that you can’t fault the boy.’ 

Video replays showed Fred headbutting PSG's Leandro Paredes in Wednesday's clash

Video replays showed Fred headbutting PSG’s Leandro Paredes in Wednesday’s clash

Paredes goes down clutching his face, but Fred avoided a sending off despite a VAR referral

Paredes goes down clutching his face, but Fred avoided a sending off despite a VAR referral

Asked if he regretted not making a substitution when Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic and Donny van de Beek were on the bench, the United boss replied: ‘There was no reason from his performance to take him off.

‘He was lucky to stay on first half but that had no bearing on the ref making a mistake there.

‘I thought Fred kept his head exceptionally well second half. In hindsight, to have 11 men would have been better but who’s to say?’ 

Solskjaer refused to criticise Herrera but Paredes was guilty of going down too easily and there were more theatrics when he clashed with Scott McTominay.

The Brazilian was involved in a running battle with the PSG midfielder during the first-half

The Brazilian was involved in a running battle with the PSG midfielder during the first-half

‘Scott could have gone down when Neymar grabbed his gentle parts but I don’t want them too,’ said Solskjaer. 

‘We’ve seen at Old Trafford players dropping too easily when they get touched.’ United captain Harry Maguire sympathised with his teammate, saying: ‘It’s strange how he gave a yellow card [in the first half].

‘It’s either a red card or nothing. It’s not a yellow card [in the second half]. He wins the ball. I was two yards away, the linesman was five yards. Every time you go to the floor – especially in Europe – you get a booking.’ The decision also perplexed PSG coach Thomas Tuchel. 

‘From the sidelines I had the impression that he gave a headbutt to Paredes,’ said the PSG boss.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer refused to criticise the PSG theatrics

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer refused to criticise the PSG theatrics

‘So there was the confirmation with VAR and after that I was very surprised.. For me, there were only two choices: he didn’t touch him or he did and it’s a red card.

‘I was a bit worried that we might lose our heads. I’m happy that we won and don’t have to discuss these decisions for too long.’ There was another blow for United when Marcus Rashford went off with a recurrence of a shoulder injury.

‘Let’s see how quickly how he recovers,’ said Solskjaer. ‘Hopefully he’ll be ready for the weekend but we don’t know.’

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