Van Gaal struggles to understand United's European exit

WOLFSBURG: Manchester United's 3-2 Champions League defeat at VfL Wolfsburg on Tuesday was difficult to understand, said manager Louis van Gaal after they crashed out in the group stage for the first time since 2011.

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United went into the game needing a win to guarantee a place in the last 16 but were outplayed for long stretches and, having clawed their way back into the match, conceded a late goal to finish third in Group B and qualify for the Europa League.

The irony for a shell-shocked Van Gaal was his team finally found their scoring touch, after two goalless draws in their last three games, but fell apart in defence.

"The result is difficult to understand," the Dutchman told a news conference. "I am happy we have scored and not happy we have two times in two minutes given a goal away.

"I have to analyse why that is happening. Normally we are very good in that aspect."

When the draw was made, few predicted United would have any problems emerging from a group that also contained CSKA Moscow and PSV Eindhoven but Van Gaal's men won only two of their six matches, at home to Wolfsburg and CSKA.

On the plus side the Champions League exit will allow United to focus their attention on the Premier League, handing them a potential advantage over their title rivals.

"We now have to wait until next year but we have got enough to fight for, the FA Cup and the Premier League," Van Gaal said.