Manchester United Women crashed out of the Champions League at the first hurdle after an agonizing 3-1 defeat to Paris Saint-Germain, meaning Chelsea are the only English team in the competition.
Mark Skinner believes the current format of the Women’s Champions League needs to change after his Manchester United team lost to Paris Saint-Germain in the qualifiers.
United crashed out of Europe before the group stage following a 4-2 aggregate defeat in the second round of qualifying, losing 3-1 on the night despite Lisa Nalsund’s second-half goal. It was a tough task for United to beat a side who reached the quarter-finals last season and join Arsenal in an exit ahead of the tournament which begins with the 16-team group stage next month.
The elimination of the big clubs from the qualifying stage is a big deal in this season’s competition, with Wolfsburg, who reached last season’s final, also eliminated on Wednesday evening, losing to Paris FC, Arsenal’s victors.
United will only play in the group stage if they can get past a team that has regularly reached the knockout stage in recent years. They impressed for long periods of the second leg in Paris, but were felled by a brace from a ruthless Lieke Martens and praise from Sandy Baltimore.
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“I hope something changes because we want the best teams in the Champions League,” Skinner said. “It’s not just a group of average teams. We deserve to be at this level. There are teams that pass that are not good enough. It’s crazy to face Paris Saint-Germain at this level. We have to learn from that.” On it, we will come back from it.”
The result means that only Chelsea will represent the WSL in this season’s tournament. With several big names exiting before the start of the competition, calls for UEFA to change the format are likely to grow.
United could also feel aggrieved by the key decision they made after their defeat in the second leg. At 3-1 down, Leah Galton headed the ball home and appeared to give Skinner’s side a way back into the tie.
But the referee disallowed the goal due to minor contact between Galton and Paris Saint-Germain defender Claire Hunt, which, if awarded, could have put United back into the tie. After the match, Skinner publicly criticized the decision and said the standard of refereeing was “not good enough”.
“It’s ridiculous,” Skinner said. Manchester United TV. “If this is the level of refereeing at this level, it is not good enough, because this is a goal and we will be on the rise after that to get more. We have reached a scary situation and that is a credit to our players.” … As a team, we’re going to go where we want to be and we’re not going to let anyone stand in our way.
“But this (Galton’s disallowed goal) wasn’t good enough. We did our best for our fans, but this decision wasn’t good enough and they have to address that.”
“We had a great response in the first half. But with those goals, we have to defend better at this level one-on-one. I feel for our fans because they were fantastic.
“We have to be more ruthless and we have learned that, but I am proud of what the girls did. I know we have the quality that we have to continue to prove now. They (Paris Saint-Germain) came off the field saying what a great team we are.”
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