Depay double powers Manchester United to 3-1 win over Club Brugge in first leg
Manchester United moved one step closer to returning to the Champions League main draw after defeating Club Brugge 3-1 in the first leg of their qualifying round. Two good goals and one assist from the club's new boy Memphis Depay helped United recover from an early own goal from Michael Carrick. The third goal was scored by substitute Marouane Fellaini.
This match was the first time these two clubs were meeting each other in a UEFA competition. The Red Devils were playing in a Champions League match for the first time since they were knocked out by Bayern Munich in the 2013-14 season
Club Brugge reached the quarter-finals of the Europa League last year, and would have been looking to make it to Europe's premier club competition this season. The Belgian club's winless run in England continued, as they now have lost 10 of their 12 matches in the country, drawing the other two.
The match started with the home team trying to build pressure as they looked to find the first opening. However, completely against the run of play, Brugge took the lead as a long-range free-kick was turned into his own net by Michael Carrick, who had stuck out a leg to try and clear the danger.
Stung by the goal, United tried to hit back immediately, and soon enough, Carrick atoned for the role he played in the goal conceded by United as he pinged a pinpoint pass onto the chest of Memphis Depay, who controlled it beautifully, flicked it past the defender, dribbled past a couple of onrushing players and then finished with aplomb in the far corner.
The rest of the first half saw the home team try to control the tempo of the game as they looked to consolidate their lead. Though the Belgian side went close a couple of times, Depay produced the moment of the first half when he was slipped in behind by Blind, took a touch to steady himself and then scored a particularly good goal, curling the ball into the far corner.
The home team went into the break with a deserved 2-1 lead. Carrick was substituted off at half-time and was replaced by Bastian Schweinsteiger. The German added some much-needed control to the team's gameplay as they spent most of the second half camped in the Brugge half.
Despite being comfortable, the home team almost conceded as a routine backpass was messed up by goalkeeper Sergio Romero, who was saved by the referee's whistle, who thought there was an infringement on the Argentine, as otherwise it would have been very embarrassing as he had been dispossessed by Victor Vazquez and the ball had been put into the goal.
They went close a couple of times, as a great piece of interception and pace shown by Luke Shaw enabled United to counter very fast after the opponents had threatened to counter after intercepting a loose pass from the aforementioned Shaw. However, his recovery, and then run and pass to Rooney was very good, who backheeled the ball into Depay's path, but the Dutchman's shot ballooned into the stands.
Another chance saw Schweinsteiger see the ball drop at his feet during a corner, but he couldn't react fast enough to score. Brugge centre-back Brandon Mechele then picked up a quickfire red card after committing two bookable offenses, leaving his team with a mountain to climb with 10 minutes to go.
Manchester United stayed on the attack, and their perseverance was rewarded when Depay's lovely cross was headed in by substitute Fellaini, who was making his first appearance of the season.
With this win, the Red Devils carry a 3-1 advantage into the 2nd leg of the tie in Belgium next week. They will be looking to seal the result without much fuss, while Brugge will try and make it as hard as they can for United.
Watch the game's highlights here: