Manchester United will head into the second leg of their Europa League Last-32 tie against Club Brugge as the favourites after drawing 1-1 at the Belgian league leaders in the first leg on Thursday.
Emmanuel Dennis opened the scoring for Brugge in the 15th minute after getting on the end of Simon Mignolet‘s goal kick and lobbing United stopper Sergio Romero. United’s equalizer came through Anthony Martial, who pounced on poor play by Brandon Mechele in the home defence to slot home after 36 minutes to ensure United returned to Old Trafford with a precious away goal.
On a night with little to shout about for United fans, Martial’s goal really was an excellent combination of perseverance and predatory finishing, as he snaffled a loose ball before racing away to finish.
The back five looked vulnerable against the pace of the Brugge front three on the counter-attack, while the likes of Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata — in the team to provide ammunition for lone forward Martial — looked short of ideas and created little for the Frenchman.
Manager rating out of 10
6 — Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made six changes from the side that won at Chelsea on Monday, and it showed with a disjointed defensive display and a lack of creative chemistry going forward.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Sergio Romero, 6 — The United stand-in found himself in no-man’s land as he quite needlessly rushed out of his goal to leave plenty of room for Dennis to lob the ball over him for the opener. Mistake aside, the Argentine was on hand to make a couple of decent saves later on to preserve the draw.
DF Brandon William, 5 — One of two United defenders who were unable to put Dennis off as he peddled away to open the scoring. The youngster also lacked composure on the ball, including on the stroke of half-time when he fired wildly off target from a decent position in the penalty area.
DF Victor Lindelof, 6 — The Swede looked shaky in the first half, particularly from a positional point of view as he left large gaps between himself and his defensive colleagues. Improved in the second period and looked relatively comfortable.
DF Harry Maguire, 6 — Had his share of edgy moments against the speedy Dennis in a tricky first half, but the United captain slowly but surely got to grips with the Nigerian, and had a decent second half.
DF Luke Shaw, 6 — United’s best defender on the night, showing some great flashes of pace to get goal side and prevent danger from developing into goal scoring chances.
DF Diogo Dalot, 5 — Should have done much, much better when trying to deal with the long punt upfield that led to Dennis’ opener, and the 20-year-old never looked comfortable when carrying out his defensive work. Replaced by Bruno Fernandes in the 81st minute.
MF Nemanja Matic, 6 — Unable to provide enough protection to a United defence that was regularly exposed by Brugge on the counter, and the Serb was often loose in possession.
MF Juan Mata, 6 — A tough first half for the Spaniard, who saw next to none of the ball despite his side dominating possession. The former Chelsea man grew into the game in the second 45, and was at the heart of United’s counter-attacking play in the final 10 minutes as the game began to stretch.
MF Jesse Lingard, 6 — The 27-year-old wasn’t afraid to get physical against a tough home midfield, but was ultimately one of many of United midfielders who found themselves surrounded by blue and black shirts. Unable to instill any kind of authority in the final third.
MF Andreas Pereira, 6 — Had United’s best opening in a nervy opening quarter of an hour, when he worked space well on the edge of the box before forcing a decent save from Mignolet, before a great turn and cross in the box wasn’t rewarded with a finish at the end of it. Booked in the second half for clipping the heels of Brugge youngster Maxim De Cuyper, and was replaced after 70 minutes by Fred.
FW Anthony Martial, 7 — Pounced brilliantly on the indecisiveness in the Brugge defence to latch on to a loose ball, sprint through on goal, and fire an excellent finish past the keeper to make the score 1-1. Later rattled the post from distance with a rasping drive that Mignolet did well to get a fingertip to. Withdrawn for the final quarter of the game in favour of Odion Ighalo.
FW Odion Ighalo, 6 — Didn’t get a sniff of a chance in the final 20 minutes, despite United finding themselves in some decent attacking positions.
MF Fred, N/R — Failed to make much of an impression, but won a free kick in a promising position on the edge of the Brugge box late on that Bruno Fernandes wasted.
MF Bruno Fernandes, N/R — Picked up some nice positions and used the ball well in his short cameo.