United 2 Athletico Bilbao 3
The Europa League could well prove a challenge too far after last night`s setback!
United lost a five goal thriller against a Bilbao side that proved they are a talented outfit to play against. In fact, there would have been no arguments from us if Bilbao ha doff wrapped up the tie last night with a further three or four goals, only a superb display from David De Gea kept United in with a chance of overcoming the deficit and getting through, in Spain, next weekend.
Any hopes that Old Trafford would embrace this competition were disappointingly proved to be false with thousands of empty seats, in the upper parts of the ground, greeting the side.
Right from the start the Spanish side signaled their intentions with some bright attacking football. As early as the fourth minute Fernando Llorente shot just wide of the post with the United defence stretched.
Lady Luc smiled on Chris Smalling with nineteen minutes gone when a blatant shirt tug in eh penalty area, on the same Bilbao player, was missed by the referee. Surprisingly, as Bilbao were dominating matters, United went ahead against the run of play. Hernandez saw his shot parried by the Bilbao keeper, Iraizoz, only for Wayne Rooney to net the rebound.
Going behind didn`t faze the Spanish side and they continued to create chances with Susuaeta fifing jus the wrong side of the post. But, as half time approached, United were to be pegged back when, with forty-four minutes gone a move involving Lorente, Susuaeta and Llorente saw the Spanish striker head home.
The second half saw Bilbao continue in the same attacking vein with De Gea pulling off good saves form both Muniain and Liorente. But, just past the midway point in the half Bilbao took the lead for the first time. Herrera combined with De Marcos for the latter to produce a superb finish to beat De Gea.
Matters were to get worse before they got better when, with a minute of normal time left, De Gea could only palm out a shot from De Marcos leaving Muniain with an easy chance to make it 3-1.
But United were given hope that victory could be salvaged, in Spain, when in th eddying moments De Marcos was adjudged to have handled and Rooney slotted home his twenty-fourth goal of the season from the penalty spot.
Shamefully, our home record in Europe this season is appalling with United having won only 1 in 5, definitely not trophy winning form!
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