Manchester United kicked off the 2016/17 Europa League campaign in disappointing fashion after a controversial late strike from Tonny Vilhena sealed a 1-0 victory for Feyenoord in Group A.
Replays appear to show the creator of the winning goal, Nicolai Jergensen, in an offside position, but play was allowed to continue and Vilhena fired home.
Clear chances had been few and far between before that on a balmy night in Rotterdam, a city with great European memories for United fans following the Cup Winners’ Cup triumph here in 1991. Further victories had followed here in 1997, but this latest visit was not to end in the Reds’ favour.
Jose Mourinho made eight changes to the side that lost out to Manchester City in the derby five days earlier. Some players, including Wayne Rooney, Luke Shaw and Antonio Valencia, stayed in Manchester after being granted a rest, while regular starters under Mourinho, Marouane Fellaini and Zlatan Ibrahimovic were named on the bench as others were given their chance; indeed Matteo Darmian, Chris Smalling, Marcos Rojo, Morgan Schneiderlin and Marcus Rashford all made their first competitive starts under the manager.
United had won the last meetings with the Dutch Eredivisie leaders, back in 1997, but Feyenoord came into the match in fine form after five wins from their opening five league games and they were the first side to register a shot on target when Steven Berghuis took aim with a well-struck shot, but David De Gea was there to save smartly.
It was a pretty even contest for the opening half an hour, but United had the best chance on 24 minutes when neat play down the right, involving the lively Marcus Rashford, led to Darmian crossing for Anthony Martial, but the Frenchman sent a fizzing effort wide.
The Reds breathed a sigh of relief at the other end five minutes before the break when a period of pressure from Giovanni van Bronckhurst’s men led to the ball dropping to Jens Toornstra on the edge of the box, but with a clear sight of De Gea’s goal he blasted over.