Van der Sar laments lack of possession

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The Independent Football

Edwin van der Sar cited an inability to retain possession as the major reason for Manchester United's Champions League final defeat in Rome last night.

After clinching the Premier League this season, United were tipped to become the first team to successfully defend the European Cup since it was rebranded the Champions League in 1992.

Instead, they were taught a footballing lesson by a Barcelona side packed with top-class talent and, in Xavi and Andres Iniesta, two men who pose a major threat to England's hopes of lifting the World Cup in South Africa next year.

With goalscorers Samuel Eto'o and Lionel Messi to call on, in addition to former Arsenal star Thierry Henry, ball retention was going to be key, particularly after United had gone behind.

But, as Van der Sar conceded, the Red Devils never got any momentum going and ultimately slipped to a tame defeat.

"It was a disappointing evening," said the veteran Dutchman.

"We had a good 10 minutes at the start but after that it changed a little bit.

"We have come from behind plenty of times before, so the goal itself was not an issue.

"But what it did was to allow them to start playing a little bit.

"In situations like that you have to try and keep possession but at times I felt we lost it a little bit too easily."

At 38, Van der Sar might not get many more chances to make amends and add to the winner's medal he won last season, 13 years after his first triumph with Ajax.

However, he is committed to another year with the Old Trafford outfit, when the desire is bound to be strong given the decisive nature of Barcelona's victory.

Not that Van der Sar is looking ahead too quickly. He wants a rest first.

"We have got to get this disappointment out of the way," he said.

"I will look at new challenges after the holidays."