Athletic Club de Bilbao 2 Manchester United 1

Match corresponding to the the last 16 of the Europa League and played at the San Mames stadium in Bilbao.

Well they carried on where they left off at Old Trafford and if they had better aim this could have been an epoch ending hammering of biblical proportions. Athletic are worthy winners proving much, much better than United over the two legs. Frankly they deserved to go through on the Old Trafford performance alone, this one tonight just vindicated it! United seemed to be up for it after a quick fire attack straight from the kick off, but that was it. Bilbao once again asserted their dominance over a midfield that included an invisible Ashley Young, I frankly noticed he was on the pitch when he fouled someone on the 85th minute mark! Ji Sung Park once again demonstrated that he is not a United player, Cleverley cannot handle the pressure of carrying this midfield, Rooney was MIA (until his wonder strike) and the defence was jittery all night long. Llorente once again struck but this time with a sweet cushioned volley, though Rio should shoulder some of the blame as he should have been marking the Spanish forward more closely than he was. The already electric atmosphere raised a notch or two to hellish proportions reminiscent of the Turkish stadiums. Half time saw a shell shocked United retire into the dressing room expecting a Fergie rocket. Bilbao had hit the post and were guilty of some woeful finishing, that may explain their 37 points almost 40 behind Real Madrid in the league (this stat I suppose puts their humiliation of United into stark contrast). This lack of profligacy continued into the second half. Yet De Marcos scored their second after his shot, which De Gea had well covered, took a wicked deflection off Evans. United were bereft of steel or skill in midfield, though Pogba showed why United should keep him when he came on putting himself about and trying to get the ball in United’s control. Rooney scored a wondrous goal to give United some hope 10 minutes from time but it was to no avail. Athletic’s supporters proved to be a class above by giving Ryan Giggs a thunderous ovation as he was subbed off. Just the Premier League title left and 10 do or die games that will surely culminate on the 30th April at the Etihad Stadium! Congratulations to Atheltic Bilbao for the masterful performances in this tie. United truly, truly woeful.

Manchester United Team

1   David De Gea

3   Patrice Evra

5   Rio Ferdinand

6   Johnny Evans

21 Rafael

13 Ji Sung Park

16 Michael Carrick

23 Tom Cleverley

11 Ryan Giggs

18 Ashley Young

10 Wayne Rooney (Goal)

SUBSTITUTES

Paul Pogba on for Michael Carrick

Chris Smalling on for Rio Ferdinand

Danny Welbeck on for Ryan Giggs

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Manchester United 2 Athletic Club de Bilbao 3

Match corresponding to the last 16 of the Europa League and played at Old Trafford.

Apologies for the lateness of the report but I was well pissed off last night after the match to write anything. Firstly congratulations to Atheltic that totally deserved this result if not a better one. This is further compounded by the fact that in a footballing world where millions of pounds or euros dictacte success, athletic on signs players of Basque or Donosti descent. As such all of thier players come through their famed Academy system. Secondly congratulations to their 8,000 fans that shamed Old Trafford into silence, what has happened to the Stretford End (though with the shower of shite on the pitch I do not blame them) and its fearsome atmosphere? Thridly David De Gea, you sir are one hell of a goalkeeper and I hope the bloody press get off your back. 8 saves, 7 world class saved us from a 2-7 scoreline. As to the match , an excillerating contest, end to end stuff and one where Bilbao gave United a masterclass and ‘El Loco’ Bielsa maybe showed SAF that either time is up or, more ot the point, that our average signings will produce average results. United took an undeserved lead through Wayne Rooney that tapped in from close range after the Bilbao keeper palmed a Chicharito shot into Rooney’s path. Llorenet, who like all the Biblao players had an excellent match, then equalised from a header at the stroke of half time. United could not keep up with the possession and rythm Bilbao had set and went in rather shell shocked. Phil Jones was having a nightmare but the worst was still to come. The second half carried on like the first, Bilbao harrying forward and United’s pathetic midfield unable to compete or keep the ball for more than 30 seconds. Biblao kept having chances but DeGea proved his over and over again, one particualr save reminiscent of the one against Chelsea. Bilbao’s second came after a classy chipped ball was half volleyed in by De Marcos. The fact he was clearly offside was missed by the linesman. Then came a truly bizarre incident. United were carrying out a promising attack when Rooney stepped on Evra’s foot and took off his boot. Evra played the ball and the ref calls for a foul, apparently a player must leave the field of play if his feet are not properly attired. Bilbao launched a long ball, cue a classic Evans/Jones cock up, De Marcos shoots low and hard, DeGea makes save number 8 and palms the ball away. Enter the brainless Rafael Da Silva that, instead of busting a gut and racing to clear the ball, watches as Muniain, who had an excellent match in midfield, speeds past in and knocks in a third, disastrous for the Reds. A late penalty converted by Rooney gives United some hope but the Lions at the cathedral of San Mames will not give up their lead easily. Well done to Athletic Bilbao and another wake up call for Sir Alex. We have no attack, no midfield, a clueless defence but thankfully we have a hell of a keeper. An embaressing defeat, but will this mean a change in the summer? The list of players currently on the books that are clearly not of a class to play for Manchester United is long.

Manchester United Team

1   David DeGea

3   Patrice Evra

6   Johnny Evans

12 Chris Smalling

21 Rafael Da Silva

13 Ji sung Park

4   Phil Jones

11 Ryan Giggs

18 Ashley Young

10 Wayne Rooney (2 Goals/1 Penalty)

14 Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez

SUBSTITUTES

Micheal Carrick on for Chris Smalling

Anderson on for Ji Sung Park

Nani on for Ryan Giggs

 

Manchester United 1 Ajax Amsterdam 2

Match corresponding to the UEFA Europa League and played at Old Trafford.

Well, well well. It wasn’t meant to have been like this. After United’s showing at the Amsterdam Arena last week it was meant to be a cake walk. It had all the markings of one when after 5 minutes Chicharito Hernandez out United ahead with a typical finish for his 10th goal of the season. Ajax got a smashing equaliser via the boot of Ozbiliz, though there was a hint of handball in the build up. De Gea didn’t have a chance. United in honesty dominated the first half but came out of the blocks very slowly in the second. Ajax started to dominate midfield with a tiring Cleverly fading out of the game. They piled on the pressure and David De Gea pulled off an excellent reflex save. Nani rattled the Ajax crossbar at 1-1 but Old Trafford, totally out sung by the fantastic Ajax away support, was left stunned after Ajax scored a second on 85 minutes via the head of Alderweireld. Things were not looking so rosy now and if Ajax got a third United would be out. Thankfully United did manage to wrest some control of the ball in the last 5 mintues of the game and saw the game out. Home defeat but 3-2 winners in aggregate. The Lions of Bilbao at San Mames next.

Manchester United Team

1    David De Gea

20 Fabio Da Silva

4    Phil Jones

12 Chris Smalling

21 Rafael Da Silva

17 Nani

13 Ji Sung Park

23 Tom Cleverly

18 Ashley Young

9   Dimitar Berbatov

14 Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez (Goal)

SUBSTITUTES

Paul Scholes on for Tom Cleverly

Johnny Evans on for Ashley Young

Danny Welbeck on for Dimitar Berbatov

Ajax Amsterdam 0 Manchester United 2

Match corresponding to the UEFA Europa League and played at the Amsterdam Arena.

It may have been European football but it wasn’t on a Tuesday or Wednesday night and it was daytime when it kicked off, but ‘Thursday Nights on Channel 5’ got off to a pretty good start. Considering the pedigree, and certainly a match for the purist, United had never met Ajax in an official competitive European tie. 7 European Cups graced both clubs but it was the secondary Continental competition that took centre stage tonight in Holland. United welcombed back Jones, Young, Nani and Cleverley from injury but nonetheless fielded a strong team. Sir Alex Ferguson said as much before the match, wanting to add the UEFA Cup to the Old Trafford cabinet, thus making United only the fourth team to have all three Euorpean trophies, one is including the now defunct Cup Winners Cup. The first half was a dour affair that was not a match to the electric atmosphere being created by the Dutch supporters. United were lacklustre and Ajax had a brilliant (once again) De Gea save keeping them at bay. Ferguson must have given United a rocket at half time as they dominated the second half from the kick off. A spree of corners brought some close chances but it was Ashley Young, cutting in from the left wing that drove in the goal between the Ajax’s keepers lags. Ajax are truly a shadow of their former selves and were constatntly being pegged in to their area by United. Scholes came on for a tiring Cleverley, his first match since October, and United kept ball easily. Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez scored United’s second away goal after good work by Valencia who won the ball in midfield and got injured, thus the sub became a sub, and then Rooney tapped in a neat little pass to Chicharito to poke in past the keeper. Ajax then had a couple of decent chances but nothing to worry United who took the pedal off the gas somewhat. Two away goals to take back to Old Trafford and job pretty much done.

Manchester United Team

1   David De Gea

20 Fabio Da Silva

5   Rio Ferdinand

6   Johnny Evans

4   Phil Jones

17 Nani

16 Micheal Carrick

23 Tom Cleverley

18 Ashley Young (Goal)

10 Wayne Rooney

14 Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez (Goal)

SUBSTITUTES

Paul Scholes on for Tom Cleverley

Antonio Valencia on for Ashley Young

Danny Welbeck on for Antonio Valencia