May 12 (Reuters) - Manchester United ended their Premier League campaign with a 2-0 home defeat by relegated Cardiff City after Nathaniel Mendez-Laing struck in each half to give the Bluebirds a fine farewell from the top flight on Sunday.
With nothing but pride at stake on a sunny afternoon at Old Trafford, United produced another dreadful performance which stretched their poor run to just one win from their last seven Premier League games.
United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was clearly unhappy with their loss of form in the home straight which saw them finish sixth, 32 points behind champions Manchester City.
“It will take some time to close in on the top, we finished five or six points behind third, fourth and fifth and that has to be our aim,” said the club’s former striker.
“The top two teams have set a standard higher than before and we have to take up the next challenge.
“The work starts now, everyone has the summer off but we have to come back with a different mentality and different attitude.”
Mendez-Laing opened the scoring with a 23rd-minute penalty after he was fouled by Diogo Dalot, as United, fielding half a dozen academy graduates, missed a string of chances in an action-packed first half before Josh Murphy nearly grabbed a second for Cardiff.
Murphy set up the second in the 54th minute when he weaved his way into the penalty area and delivered an inch-perfect cross to the unmarked Mendez-Laing, who tapped in from close range.
Cardiff goalkeeper Neil Etheridge then pulled off a pair of superb saves to deny Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba, either side of Bobby Reid’s rasping volley which sailed inches wide at the other end.
Visiting manager Neil Warnock was upbeat about Cardiff’s prospects of making a swift return to the top flight.
“I wanted the players to play for me today,” he said. “With a bit of luck, we would have stayed up. I’m having a meeting with the chairman and chief executive on Monday.
“The club is in a strong position... they can push on like Burnley did when they went down. I will leave the club in a good state whenever I leave.”
Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Tony Lawrence