Manchester United were in the Basque region as they attempted to claw themselves back into their last 16 tie with the La Liga outfit. Could Rooney and co pull it off?
It’s the third night of European football this week and we’re in the Basque region. As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts on this evening’s action. E-mail email@example.com, tweet @thescore_ie, post a message to our Facebook wall, or leave a comment below.
Good evening and thanks for dropping by for the early shift of tonight’s Europa League football. Both Manchester clubs are trailing from their first leg and we’re at the San Mames Stadium where an exciting Athletic Bilbao side, who lead 3-2 on aggregate, welcome United. The starting teams will be along in a minute…
And here they are:
Atheltic Bilbao: G Iraizoz, A Iraola, F Amorebieta, J Martinez, J Aurtenetxe, A Iturraspe, O de Marcos, A Herrera, M Susaeta, I Muniain, F Llorente. Subs: Raul, G Toquero, M San Jose, D Lopez, I Perez, B Ekiza, I Gomez.
Manchester United: D de Gea, P Evra, R Ferdinand, J Evans, Rafael, P Ji-Sung, R Giggs, M Carrick, T Cleverley, A Young, W Rooney. Subs: B Amos, C Smalling, J Hernandez, D Welbeck, Fabio, P Scholes, P Pogba.
So, Ferguson has decided to go with Wayne Rooney up top and left Javier Hernandez, who scored in the first leg, and Danny Welbeck on the bench. There is no place in the match-day squad for Dimitar Berbatov, however. The former Bulgarian international is set to leave Old Trafford in the summer according to reports yesterday.
Bilbao’s top marksman Fernando Llorente caused the United backline plenty of problems last week and he starts here despite being a doubt in the lead-up.
Last week, the Red Devils boss watched his side being overrun by Bilbao, who maintained a high tempo and pressed the home team at every opportunity, and looks likely to crowd the midfield tonight. A 3-2 defeat slightly flattered the Premier League club and they face a mammoth challenge to turn around the scoreline.
We’ve seen our fair share of comebacks already this season though, so it would be foolish to rule them out. For an excellent analysis of the tactical battle at Old Trafford, check out ZonalMarking.net.
I met former Spanish international Gaizka Mendieta yesterday and the lifelong Bilbao fan had this to say:
“I’m really impressed by what Marcelo Bielsa has done. It’s not been easy because the first couple of months in La Liga they struggled.
Bielsa has this Argetinian mentality about how the ball should be passed and looked after but Athletic Bilbao have always been known for direct and physical in a kind of English style.
“They have not achieved anything yet but hopefully they will with the Spanish Cup and the Europa League.”
You can read more here.
These team last met in the European Cup 55 years ago when a Busby Babes team not yet stripped of the Munich disaster victims went down 5-3 to Bilbao in an incredible game. The return leg was played at Maine Road as floodlights hadn’t yet been installed at Old Trafford and United managed to win 3-0 at the home of their city rivals to progress to the semi-finals – where they lost out to Real Madrid.
Check out these rare highlights of the second leg:
There’s a great feeling of togetherness in Bilbao and the atmosphere will be electric out there tonight.” – Alex Ferguson speaking to Channel 5.
Just over five minutes until kick-off…
Fernando Llorente gets the game underway and straight away United are on the attack. Ji-Sung Park plays Wayne Rooney through, but he cuts the ball across where there are no blue United shirts.
Great atmosphere already.
Michael Carrick gives away a free-kick 20 yards out after taking down Ander Herrer. Markel Susaeta gets it over the wall but it fly past David de Gea’s post.
End-to-end stuff in the opening ten minutes. Super run by Tom Cleverley and he slides Ashley Young through. The English international looks to pull the trigger but is snuffed out by a terrific challenge.
Iker Muniain sets off on a run and wins his team a corner when Rafael gets a toe in.
Oscar De Marcos scuff a shot harmlessly wide but the home side are finding space. Meanwhile, Javi Martinez takes a knock on the head after colliding with Wayne Rooney. He’s back on his feet so it looks like he’ll live.
Absolutely glorious chance goes a begging. Llorente flicks on to Muniain and the 19-year-old sees his effort come back out off the post. De Marcos follows up but skies the second attempt.
GOAL! Athletic Bilbao (4) 1-0 (2) Manchester United (Fernando Llorente)
The Spanish striker gets on the end of a long ball that sails over the head of Rio Ferdinand and catches it on the volley. Huge ask for United now, who need to score three.
Jonathan Wilson certainly enjoyed it…
United very nearly hit back but Ryan Giggs header from an Ashley Young cross is nodded behind for a corner, which then results in a free out for Bilbao.
United continue to probe and have earned a couple of corners but haven’t really carved out a clear opening.
Here’s that Llorente goal for anyone who hasn’t yet seen it. Well worth a watch:
Big blow for Bilbao, who are forced to withdraw the goalscorer Llorente, who is struggling with injury. He’s left his mark on the game, however.
The hardworking Gaizka Toquero takes his place in attack.
Half-time: Athletic Bilbao (4) 1-0 (2) Manchester United
An Athletic Bilbao fan is up in arms. Credit: Stephen Pond/EMPICS Sport
Scores in the other Europa League 6pm kick-offs are as follows:
Hannover (4) 2-0 (2) Standard Liege
PSV Eindhoven (2) 0-0 (4) Valencia
Udinese (2) 2-1 (3) AZ Alkmaar
The visitors are out on the pitch and eagerly awaiting the start of the second half. They’re a club well-known for historic comebacks but have they got it in them tonight?
Susaeta has a pop from distance and although it’s cleanly-struck, it sails well-wide.
Unbelievable Jeff. What a goal that would have been. Andoni Iraola receives the ball on the edge of the box and dances his way past three United defenders but roles a left-foot strike agonisingly wide.
That’s a bad miss by Toquero as Bilbao continue to pour forward. United have no answers as the clock reaches 60 minutes. Surely it’s nearly time for Welbeck, Chicharito or Scholes, Fergie?
The United boss has chosen not to take my advice and instead brings on Chris Smalling (sporting a Petr Cech scrum cap) and French youngster Paul Pogba for his European debut.
GOAL! Athletic Bilbao (5) 2-0 (2) Manchester United (Oscar De Marcos)
That looks to be it for United. A cross falls to De Marcos and the 22-year-old Spaniard chests before dispatching clinically.
Ryan Giggs comes off for Danny Welbeck, meanwhile.
More spurned chances in front of goal for Athletic as Susaeta skews wide. Toquero then heads over before shooting off target from a fair distance. 15 minutes to go.
GOAL! Athletic Bilbao (5) 2-1 (3) Manchester United (Wayne Rooney)
Take a bow, Wayne Rooney. The striker picks the ball up in a central position and steps onto his right foot before curling the ball into the top corner for his 27 goal in all competitions this season.
Welbeck forces Gorka Iraizoz into a decent save form 20 yards out. A United free-kick minutes later doesn’t amount to anything… the 90 minutes are up and we’re into added time.
Full-time: Athletic Bilbao (5) 2-1 (3) Manchester United
It’s official. United are out of Europe.
United are outclassed by their Spanish opponents for a second time in a week. They can have no complaints on the night and Bilbao progress to the quarter-finals knowing they will take some stopping. The other early full-times are:
Hannover (6) 4-0 (2) Standard Liege
PSV Eindhoven (3) 1-1 (5) Valencia
Udinese (2) 2-1 (3) AZ Alkmaar
That’s my lot then. The other Manchester club are seconds away from kicking off at the Etihad Stadium as they look to turn around a 1-0 first leg defeat to Sporting Lisbon. Our man Fenno is on the case and you can read his liveblog here. I’ll leave you with Rooney’s consolation…
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