Manchester Untied’s propensity towards drawing a football game under Jose Mourinho came to the fore once again, the Red Devils allowing Belgian side Anderlecht to hold them to a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League quarterfinal tie on Thursday.
Mourinho fielded his best possible XI, with Antonio Valencia returning to start at right back but first-choice goalkeeper David de Gea was deemed fit only for the bench.
The hosts had the first chance of the game despite United monopolising possession, with winger Frank Acheampong flashing a cross-shot which eluded his teammates before flashing wide of Sergio Romero’ post.
After that, however, it was one-way traffic as United exerted control and they should have gone ahead with Marcus Rashford sent in an inviting cross for Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The Swede beat his marker to poke the ball at goal but Anderlecht keeper Ruben Martinez made an important stop and Jesse Lingard was unable to finish on the rebound, hitting the post.
Rashford was looking bright and went close to scoring when he sent in a long distance shot which almost curled away into the far corner but United weren't to be denied for long.
Valencia sent in a cross straight at Rashford, whose initial shot was saved by Martinez but Henrikh Mkhitaryan was on hand to tap in the rebound nine minutes from half-time.
The sides went into the interval with United holding a slender advantage and as the second half began, the away side looked to find that second goal which would effectively seal the tie in their favour.
It never came, however, with Mkhitarayn first and Paul Pogba later missing chances to double United’s lead. While the Armenian’s chance was a little difficult considering it was from an acute angle, Pogba had been set up for a one-on-one by a delightful through ball from Ibrahimovic, but chose to shoot straight at Martinez rather than finishing in a corner.
And their profligacy came back to haunt them as as Leander Dendocnker headed home Ivan Obradovic’s cross in the 86th-minute to give Anderlecht a fighting chance of progressing to the last-four.
The return leg is next week, on the 20th of April at Old Trafford but now United must shift their focus to the English Premier League as Mourinho’s former club and current league leaders, Chelsea, come visiting on Sunday.