IBTimes UK

Chris Smalling has admitted that he and his teammates are disappointed after Manchester United's 2-0 defeat to Liverpool in the first leg of the Europa League last 16 tie and claims his side have an uphill task to make it to the quarter-final of the competition.

Daniel Sturridge opened the scoring after the Merseyside club were handed a penalty in the first half, before Roberto Firmino capitalised on Michael Carrick's mistake to double the lead for the hosts.

Louis van Gaal's side failed to score the crucial away goal and after a disappointing display against their arch-rivals, United need an impressive performance in the return leg at Old Trafford in order to qualify for the next stage of the Europe's second tier club competition.

Smalling suggested that United were well placed in the first half, but their failure to convert their possession into chances saw them pay for the latest defeat at the hands of Jurgen Klopp's side.

"We're disappointed. I think we could have done with getting an away goal – we know we've got a difficult job on our hands,"Smalling to MUTV.

"They had a lot of runners coming from midfield, and I think our wingers were having to defend a lot, so whenever we won the ball back we couldn't really sustain it [possession] and keep it. In that first half, it was very difficult, we couldn't get up the pitch.

"In the second half we were a little bit more comfortable, albeit without creating too many chances. We could have really done with getting that away goal. I think if you get that goal, you can be a bit more positive, but it's now up to us to rectify it in front of our own fans. The first goal is going to be crucial.

"We're all disappointed, but knowing we've now got two home games, it's up to us to take the game to West Ham [on Sunday] and then Liverpool [next Thursday]."

IBTimes UK