Sunderland vs Manchester United: Louis van Gaal admits qualifying for the Champions League will be 'very difficult'

A 2-1 defeat at Sunderland leaves United in fifth and Van Gaal believes winning the Europa League could prove the most likeliest way of qualifying for next season's Champions League

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The Independent Football

Louis van Gaal has admitted that Manchester United’s best chance of qualifying for next season’s Champions League is by winning the Europa League following the 2-1 defeat by Sunderland that could leave them seven points adrift of the top four come Sunday evening.

With Tottenham and Manchester City facing off at the Etihad Stadium tomorrow, anything but a City win will see United trailing the top four by an alarming seven points, and Van Gaal was quick to add that their chances of qualifying for Europe’s elite competition next season have taken a serious blow with their latest defeat.

"I think after this match that is the best route (into the Champions League and that is not so easy because there are a lot of very good teams participating in this event (the Europa League)," Van Gaal told BT Sport.

"It will be very difficult now. We give five points away, Chelsea and now this game so it is too much at this time.

"I have to do my work, and I do my work to my utmost best and I must prepare my players for Midtjylland."

He added: "I think what I said before the game, you have to win these kind of games and we didn't and we can only blame ourselves.

"Two goals from two set-pieces. They had more aggression than us and we could not cope with that aggression and we don't keep the ball in our possession."

Van Gaal’s counterpart, Sam Allardyce, was unsurprisingly delighted with the victory and while the result was not enough to drag Sunderland out of the relegation zone, it did bring a welcome three points that he described as a “bonus”.

"I think the game was similar to (Manchester) City but this time we got what we deserved. The chances we created and the clear-cut one we had was worrying me because we should have been 2-0 up.

"N'Doye was through one-on-one and I was wondering if it would go for us but luckily our new boys helped us out today and it's an unbelievable result for us, beating Manchester United but beating them in the position we're in. This is three big, big bonus points for us."