Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal believes PNE were ‘lucky’ to take the lead as his men edged into the quarter-finals of the FA Cup with a 3-1 victory at Deepdale.
PNE left wing-back Scott Laird opened the scoring in the 48th minute with a fierce deflected strike that stung the palms of United keeper David De Gea.
Laird’s strike appeared to hit United player Antonio Valencia on the way in.
He said: “Of course when we conceded the goal that was a little bit unlucky.
“I think the shot deviated.
“They scored out of nothing.”
Van Gaal admitted his men lacked firepower in the first half
And the United boss praised his men for their fighting spirit.
He said: “We have to fight again for the victory such as against Burnley.
“Every game in the FA Cup is difficult to win because every team is giving everything.
“You have seen it in this round how many better situated teams have lost?
“Of course when you play against a lower team then the chance to win is always bigger but all the circumstances are against you.
“I think our first goal was also a little bit lucky but the second was a training goal, fantastic I think.
“The third goal was a penalty and then the match was done.”
United’s fight-back was fuelled by an inspired substitution by Van Gaal. The Dutchman replaced ineffective £43m striker Radamel Falcao with winger Ashley Young and shifted the shape to a traditional 4-4-2 in the 60th minute.
Five minutes later, Ander Herrera found the back of the net and Marouane Fellaini smashed the ball into the top corner from close range in the 73rd minute.
But a controversial Wayne Rooney penalty sealed victory for Van Gaal’s men in the 88th minute.
And the United manager believes the credit for the effectiveness of substitution should go to his players.
He said: “In the first half we didn’t create ourselves many chances so that is why I changed the shape in the second half and that was I think why we make the goals.
“I have to give all the credit to the players because they have done again everything and the spirit in the team is unbelievable like the spirit of the fans.
“I changed the shape with bringing Ashley in. He did well.
“I think the whole team did it well because they believe also that we could do it with this shape because as a training coach or as a staff you can change the system but your players they have to believe in it.
“They have to perform it and that is not so easy but they do it and not for the first time and that is fantastic.
“It was dependable of the situation on the pitch you have to read the game and solve the problems you have.”
But the United boss admitted his side were lacking firepower in the first half.
He said: “I think we started well at the game we didn’t give much away. Only one chance in the first half.
“I think in the first half we played the better match as against Cambridge or Yeovil but we didn’t create so much.
“In the second half we have created more three chances and we scored three goals so it is six that is a lot.”
The Red Devils will host Arsenal at Old Trafford in a blockbuster quarter-final and Van Gaal is pleased to have a home tie.
He said: “I think that that is the most important thing that we now have a draw at home.
“That is important in FA Cup matches so I am pleased that we can play against Arsenal at home.”