STOKE-ON-TRENT, United Kingdom – Manchester United manager David Moyes had no concerns about his side's performance despite the champions suffering their eighth Premier League defeat of the season at Stoke City's windswept Britannia Stadium.
Charlie Adam scored twice, either side of a Robin van Persie equaliser, to secure the Potters' first league win over United since 1984 and seriously hinder the defending champions' hopes of qualifying for next season's Champions League.
Moyes's men could end the weekend nine points off the top four if rivals Liverpool beat West Bromwich Albion on Sunday, and closing that gap would appear a difficult task with only 14 games of the season remaining.
But the United manager was unperturbed by his side's 2-1 loss, which was their fourth defeat of 2014 in all competitions.
He pinpointed the deflection off Michael Carrick for Adam's first-half opener and the quality of the Stoke midfielder's second goal as reasons why United should not be too downbeat about their display.
“I thought the performance was really good,” he said. “I thought we played well, so I don't think the question about a poor performance is right.
“We made numerous opportunities, played well, lost a goal from a free-kick 30 yards from goal that took a deflection, and (conceded) a worldy. I thought we were the better team.
“They got a goal, we got back in it, I thought we were the team more likely and I thought on the day we did enough to certainly get something from the game.”
With Jonny Evans hobbling off in the 11th minute, Adam's deflected opener and then a head injury to Phil Jones, Moyes could count himself unlucky, but his side also squandered several chances.
“I thought we had bad luck, I really did,” he said.
“It was our own downfall that we really didn't take our chances. We must have got to the byline eight, nine, 10 times and never picked someone out in the box, so it is our own doing, but I thought we played well.
“The conditions didn't make for a great game. There were a lot of stoppages, which made it quite difficult, but I was pleased with how we did.
“There wasn't an awful lot that I could say we didn't do well. I just thought we didn't finish it off.”
Adam opened the scoring in the 38th minute when his speculative free-kick from distance hit Carrick's knee and left United goalkeeper David de Gea helplessly wrong-footed.
United responded after the break when Juan Mata, making his second start since his £37.1 million ($61.2 million, 44.8 million euros) arrival from Chelsea, played in Van Persie, who curled home the equaliser.
But in the 52nd minute Adam fired in a glorious goal from 22
yards to secure Stoke's first league win since December 21 and catapult them up to 11th place in the table.
Manager Mark Hughes said that his side now had their sights on the teams above them after proving that they have the class to avoid a relegation fight.
“It is a huge result for us,” said the former United striker. “I thought it was a magnificent performance. It was an important win for us.
“I think at the start of proceedings we were in 18th and ended up 11th, which shows how crazy the league is at the moment. It's going to continue in that vein, but we would like to think we are looking upwards.
“Maybe people would doubt that positive attitude, but after the events of this game, people can see we are a determined group that stick together and will fight all the way. You just have to take care of your own business.” – Sapa-AFP