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.
A BATTLE IN BRUGGEGALLERY
Recap the key moments from our draw in Belgium via our match gallery.VIEW GALLERY
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.