Sir Alex Ferguson has shouldered the blame after watching his young Manchester United side fall to a 2-1 defeat against Ajax in the Europa League.

Despite the loss at Old Trafford, United did progress to the next round of the competition, but the Premier League champions were far from convincing against their Dutch opposition.

Ferguson made four changes to the side which had beaten Ajax 2-0 in Amsterdam a week previous, and employed the relatively inexperienced back for of Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and the Da Silva twins.

United, however, did take the lead after only six minutes after Javier Hernandez found the net, but goals from Aras Ozbiliz and Toby Alderweireld ensured Ajax secured a deserved victory.

Ferguson though took the unfamiliar stance of accepting responsibility for the loss against the Eredivisie champions, having opted to go with youth rather than experience on Thursday evening.

“It was very nervy at the end of the game,” he told MUTV. “We didn’t play well in the second half and they were by far the better team.

"I accept responsibility myself because I picked a team with too many youngsters in the back four positions.

"They all have great potential but on European nights you need experience in the back positions and it just made it a nervy night for us.

“You play Ajax and know that they can keep the ball all night. The problem is that they don’t really have a great deal of penetration. But they’re all good young footballers, they are a growing team.

“They are much like ourselves, which is why I thought playing young players would help us as it would give them experience.

"Of course, I had to play some who needed a game badly. Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Tom Cleverley have all been out for a long time so it was important to get them a game.”

United's 3-2 aggregate win over Ajax sets up a last 16 tie with La Liga outfit Athletic Bilbao, who advanced past Lokomotiv Moscow on the away goals rule.

Bilbao will travel to Old Trafford for the first leg on March 8, before hosting United for the second leg a week later.

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