Manchester United defender Chris Smalling was impressed by the spirit shown by the Reds during Wednesday’s Europa League win over Saint-Etienne.
Jose Mourinho’s men won 1-0 on the night and 4-0 on aggregate to progress to the last 16, but were made to play the last half an hour with 10 men after Eric Bailly’s dismissal.
Speaking to MUTV after the game, Smalling hailed a professional United performance and said his team were untroubled by the numerical disadvantage.
“It’s testament to our fitness levels and the games we’ve played that we can almost make it look like it’s 11 against 11 even when we’re a man down,” he said. “We had chances in that period that were better than theirs so overall it’s a good job.”
“We knew we were coming into the game a few goals ahead but it was all about that first goal. The crowd could have inspired them to do anything so it really helped us control the game.”
Smalling was also asked about the experience of playing at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, which is nicknamed ‘The Cauldron’, due to its lively atmosphere. And while he relished the occasion, attentions now turn to Sunday’s EFL Cup final against Southampton at Wembley.
“Their fans were incredible,” he added. “Even at the end when they were so many goals behind it was a great atmosphere to play in.
“I can’t wait to get my boots back on now. We’ll be relishing Sunday and the chance to pick up a piece of silverware. There are quite a few of us that have played a number of games at Wembley and maybe some of their players haven’t, so hopefully that will give us the edge on Sunday.”