Despite the fact it was United in need of goals - two of them, at least - it was Athletic, buoyed by a raucous home support, who made the early running with some quick, incisive passing and excellent movement in attack. The impressive Markel Susaeta, who had been one of the star performers seven days earlier, saw his deflected free-kick hit the side-netting on three minutes before another effort hit a United player and dropped kindly into the hands of David De Gea.
United kept Athletic on their toes on the break and goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz had to be alert after nine minutes when neat interplay between Rooney and Cleverley led to a shot from Young that was bravely blocked by Javi Martinez.
The Reds breathed a sigh of relief soon afterwards when Llorente slid a pass through to the tricky Iker Muniain in the area and his low drive smacked against the post. De Marcos then fired the follow-up over the bar when it looked easier to score. You always felt that should Athletic net the opening goal the tie would be all but over. Unfortunately, that was exactly how things panned out.
After De Marcos had seen a shot saved by De Gea, a lovely cross-field pass over the top from Amorebieta was brilliantly volleyed home by Llorente into the far corner on 23 minutes. The home fans celebrated like it was a Champions League final-winning strike and it certainly felt like a clincher of some sort, with the Reds now needing to find three goals in order to qualify.
United weren’t about to give up despite the uphill fight and Giggs was unlucky to see a close-range header deflected over the bar after a cross from the left from Young five minutes later.