A two-goal margin would have put United through as group winners, but they struggled to break down a resolute Real Sociedad defence.
Erik ten Hag admits Manchester United were left “disappointed” after failing to top their Europa League group, despite a 1-0 win over Real Sociedad on Thursday.
A triumph by two or more goals would have seen United advance as Group E winners by virtue of a superior head-to-head record over La Real.
Alejandro Garnacho’s 17th-minute goal gave United hope, but that proved to be their only shot on target during a lacklustre display at the Reale Arena.
Ten Hag, whose side subsequently face a play-off against one of the teams knocked out of the Champions League, told BT Sport: “You do not always get what you deserve.
“Of course, we are disappointed we didn’t score two goals because that’s what we needed. We want always to be number one, and when we aren’t, we are disappointed.”
Ten Hag took some positives out the game, highlighting the display of Garnacho after the 18-year-old became United’s youngest non-English goalscorer in major European competition, taking the record from club legend George Best.
“Today, we win, and I am happy with that, and some other things like the performance of Alejandro Garnacho,” the Dutchman added.
“We had problems there [on the wing]. Antony was out, and Jadon Sancho was not available. I really hope he can keep the process going. He was a threat. If he can keep this going, I am really happy.”