Talking Points from Club Brugge 1 United 1

Anthony Martial scored a valuable away goal on Thursday night as Manchester United weathered a storm to draw 1-1 with Club Brugge, in the first leg of a balanced Europa League last-32 tie.

Here, you can delve into the talking points from a rain-sodden night in Belgium… 

TONY MARTIAL SCORES AGAIN
The Reds faced an uphill task after Emmanuel ‘Dennis’ Bonaventure broke the deadlock for the hosts, looping his shot over the advancing Sergio Romero, but thankfully parity was quickly restored by Anthony Martial and in a fashion that bore some resemblance to his iconic debut back in 2015.

Of course, the Frenchman netted against Liverpool back then and his opposition goalkeeper that day was none other than Club Brugge stopper Simon Mignolet, who was quick to play down the historic club rivalry in his pre-match press conference. However, the former Merseysider must have been frustrated to concede to our no.9 once again on Thursday night, even if there was very little he could have done to stop it. In case you haven’t seen it, Martial latched onto a wayward throw-in, rapidly burst up the pitch, shrugged off his marker and dispatched a typically cool finish. The vital away goal could be crucial when the teams meet again at Old Trafford a week today.

DENNIS THE MENACE
Club Brugge's Nigerian striker made a name for himself when scoring twice against Real Madrid earlier this season and his qualities were on show against United. Solskjaer praised his performance afterwards and the Reds must keep a close eye on him at Old Trafford next week. “For the second leg, I would just get a marker on Dennis and make sure that he doesn’t get the ball,” says The Times journalist Paul Hirst. “He is such a dangerous player, so quick and powerful around the box. He has emerged as the most dangerous player for Club Brugge, so United need to get a hold of him in the second leg.”

HALF AN EYE ON WATFORD
Solskjaer made six changes to the starting XI that faced Chelsea in the Premier League on Monday, taking out David De Gea, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Eric Bailly, Fred, Bruno Fernandes and Daniel James, presumably with this Sunday’s top-flight outing against Watford in mind. 

Fred and Fernandes were the only members of that group who featured at all, coming on as substitutes late in the second half, as the manager continues to navigate a run of seven matches in 21 days across all competitions. Expect all six men to play greater roles at the weekend.

MORE MINUTES FOR IGHALO
Our January loan signing from Chinese club Shanghai Greenland Shenhua was tipped to start this match by many pundits, after making his debut as a substitute at Stamford Bridge earlier in the week, yet the Nigerian was again named on the bench and eventually entered the action after 67 minutes. Here’s the next question: how may he be involved against former club Watford on Sunday?

A COUPLE OF MILESTONE MEN
Illness stopped Victor Lindelof from making his 100th United appearance in our 2-0 win over Chelsea, but the Swedish defender made a quick recovery to reach that total in Belgium.

Jesse Lingard also clocked up a big milestone for himself by making his 200th United appearance. The Academy graduate joined Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial as recent inductees to that select group. 

Jesse Lingard made his 200th United appearance in Thursday's Europa League match.
ALWAYS TAKE THE WEATHER WITH YOU
Around 1,000 Reds travelled to the match and they were housed in the far corner of the stadium, without a roof over their heads as heavy rain and hail fell down in biblical fashion. They huddled together at one end of the section before kick-off in an effort to take shelter from the storm – and keep warm! – but as soon as the action started, they spread out and belted out a medley of  hits, paying tributes to the greats of United history. The support of the team – in difficult conditions - was outstanding.
Our travelling fans were magnificent in their support of the team.

EXTRA SUPPORT IN THE STAND
Our talented Under-19s squad sat just in front of the press box and watched the action with interest, as part of a trip designed to educate them on the European away experience. In case you missed it, Neil Wood’s team earned a comfortable 2-0 win over their Club Brugge counterparts earlier in the afternoon, with occasional first-team players Tahith Chong and James Garner both among the goals.

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