Europa League 2016/17: RSC Anderlecht 1-1 Manchester United, 5 talking points
Another game and another draw for Manchester United. This time in the Europa League.
Manchester United paid the price for missing a host of opportunities as Anderlecht’s Leander Dendoncker scored a late equaliser to keep their Europa League quarter-final tie finely poised for the return leg at Old Trafford.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s goal from a tight angle following Marcus Rashford’s parried shot gave United a vital way goal.
However, Jose Mourinho’s side failed to capitalise on a number of chances to kill the tie off before Dendoncker headed in unmarked from a cross from left-back Ivan Obradovic in the 86th minute to give the Belgian champions hope ahead of the second leg at Old Trafford.
Here are the talking points from the game:
#1 Finishing woes continue for Manchester United
The game at Brussels was a perfect reflection of United's frustrating season as far as the finishing department was concerned. They got in behind the Anderlecht defence multiple times - Henrikh Mkhitaryan using his great vision of the game to good effect by running into pockets of space, with Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard providing width and pace. However, when it came to putting the ball into the back of the net, Mourinho's side once again came short.
Paul Pogba saw a shot saved by keeper Ruben Martinez when he was put clean through on goal, Lingard hit the post in the first half after Ruben's save and Mkhitaryan missed the target on a couple of occasions from good crosses. United's goal was a result of a split Marcus Rashford shot. They ultimately paid the price as the hosts managed to grab an equaliser in the dying stages with their first shot on target.
#2 A guide to 19-year old Anderlecht skipper Youri Tielemans
Though United fans may be pleasantly surprised when they learnt that a 19-year old by the name of Youri Tielemans would be Anderlecht’s skipper for the night, it was no such surprise to the home fans, who know all too well about his potential and capability to influence the game in midfield. Tielemans has already scored 18 goals for Anderlecht (5 goals in European competition) this season – despite being a central midfielder by nature.
He provides everything a midfielder is expected to do – a touch of flair and creativity when in attack and a calm head in front of the back four when the need of the hour is to guide the ball out of the defensive third. Tielemans – who has already won two senior Belgian caps – definitely displayed those attributes against United on Thursday. He held the ball in defensive midfield, kept an eye on Paul Pogba the whole game while also attempting to drive the ball forward when Anderlecht needed to express themselves after falling behind.
It was a solid, energetic performance from the young and talented player, who is tipped to be a future star and a hot prospect for some of Europe’s bigger clubs.