United face uphill battle

Fernando Llorente (left)

Fernando Llorente (left)

First published in Premier League and National Sports News © by

Manchester United suffered their second successive Europa League home defeat as Athletic Bilbao came from behind to secure a deserved 3-2 victory in their last-16 first-leg tie at Old Trafford.

Wayne Rooney started and ended the scoring to give the Red Devils some hope in the return leg next week.

But they will have to go some to overcome an impressive Bilbao outfit who levelled before the break and scored twice more in the second half, before Rooney's injury-time penalty.

It was not long before Athletic made their intentions clear as Fernando Llorente shrugged aside a couple of half-hearted challenges on the edge of the area and curled a shot narrowly wide.

United went ahead against the run of play when, after collecting Ryan Giggs' square pass, Hernandez stepped inside Oscar de Marcos and let fly with a forceful effort. Gorka Iraizoz parried, but straight into the path of Rooney, who slotted home first-time.

The visitors created a glorious chance in route-one fashion when Ander Herrera lofted a pass over the United defence. Markel Susaeta left Jonny Evans for dead and went for goal with a first-time lob that beat David De Gea but bounced narrowly wide.

Bilbao were level just before the break when Llorente moved the ball out wide, then turned inside the area and was in the perfect place to nod home from close range as Susaeta delivered the cross.

And the Spaniards went ahead as Llorente produced a superb chip at the end of a brilliant piece of one-touch passing to find Oscar De Marcos, who admittedly was offside, but finished with aplomb and was awarded the goal.

Gaizka Toquero's arrival for Llorente had more of an impact though, with De Gea touching over a stinging shot from the substitute seven minutes from the end but there was more punishment to come, this time totally self-inflicted as Rafael failed to clear up the danger after De Gea had saved De Marcos' shot and Iker Muniain drilled home.

It appeared United were on their way out but in the second-minute of stoppage time they profited from a handball decision and Rooney blasted home the penalty.

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