Enterprising Athletic stun United at Old Trafford
Thursday, March 8, 2012
Manchester United FC2-3 Athletic Club
The Liga club recorded a famous win in front of their 7,000 visiting fans, although Wayne Rooney's late second, a penalty, has given United hope.
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Athletic Club gave their 7,000 travelling supporters a night to remember at Old Trafford as they came from behind to record a 3-2 win against Manchester United FC.
Trailing to Wayne Rooney's 22nd-minute goal, Athletic responded through Fernando Llorente, Óscar de Marcos and Iker Muniain. Rooney's added-time penalty raised United's hopes of a comeback but the Spanish team are in a commanding position in this UEFA Europa League round of 16 tie.
This was another uncertain home display by United in Europe – they have won just one in five this season – and Athletic took full advantage to record a first win on English soil. Marcelo Bielsa's enterprising visitors were assured and positive in possession and, in Llorente, had a striker equipped to trouble the home defence. At 0-0 both he and Markel Susaeta went close, almost punishing United's carelessness.
As it was, United stole in front. Ryan Giggs and Javier Hernández interchanged swiftly, carrying the ball into the Athletic penalty area. Although Gorka Iraizoz got down to save the latter's shot, Rooney turned in the loose ball.
Roared on by their noisy fans, Athletic responded impressively. Llorente headed wide, Susaeta sent a lob off target after getting behind Jonny Evans, then right-back Andoni Iraola drew a low save from David de Gea. Finally, on the cusp of half-time, Athetic struck. Llorente, typically, held off two red shirts and fed Iraola; he put Susaeta into a crossing position and when the ball came in there was Llorente to bury his header.
Athletic should have added a second after the restart, De Gea producing a series of saves to foil Llorente and Muniain, twice. Michael Carrick, then Anderson – for his first appearance since January – came on to bolster United's midfield but to no avail. Eventually the pressure told. A flurry of short passes concluded with Ander Herrera lifting a ball into the box, where De Marcos volleyed across De Gea.
The dying moments brought two more goals. First Muniain beat De Gea to the rebound after the goalkeeper had stopped another De Marcos shot; then De Marcos' handball allowed Rooney a second goal and United a glimmer of hope.