Anthony Martial saved Manchester United’s blushes as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side kicked off the Europa League knockout phase with a hard-fought draw at Club Brugge.
After Monday’s impressive, and much-needed, Premier League win at top-four rivals Chelsea, Solskjaer plumped for six changes in Belgium for the first leg of this round of 32 tie.
United and Club Brugge will resume battle at Old Trafford with the score poised at 1-1 after Martial raced through to level on a night which started with Emmanuel Dennis catching Sergio Romero in no man’s land.
The normally dependable Argentina international’s poor positioning from former Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet’s goal-kick in the 15th minute summed up a largely poor first-half performance by the visitors.
Club Brugge looked well placed to secure the “miracle” win their head coach Philippe Clement spoke of in the build-up, so he must have been tearing his hair out when they shot themselves in the foot in the 36th minute.
From a throw-in that Harry Maguire had comically given away, Brandon Mechele’s bizarre decision to let the ball bounce was gobbled up Martial and the striker darted through to level coolly.
The France international, who opened the scoring at Stamford Bridge on Monday, also hit the post as United attempted to end a shocking first half with an undeserved lead.
The second period was a more even affair at the tired Jan Breydelstadion, with both sides having chances to take a lead into next week’s second leg in Manchester.
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