Manchester United kicked off their Europa League campaign with a disappointing defeat away at Feyenoord on Thursday. An impotent performance was punished in the final few minutes, when Tonny Vilhena lashed the winner beyond David de Gea. It’s clear José Mourinho still has plenty of work still to do.
United set the tone in a first half in which they created almost nothing against a stubborn Feyenoord defence. Marcus Rashford cut a lonely figure up top, with his isolation enabling the Dutch hosts to win possession almost as quickly as they lost it. Throughout, Feyenoord were generally on top, and on a couple of occasions had created real chances with dangerous crosses whipped into the penalty area. United’s midfield — on paper perhaps their strongest — failed miserably to dominate the match; indeed, they were outplayed by Aston Villa reject Karim El Ahmadi.
United’s only real clear-cut opportunity came midway through the opening period, after some smart play from Rashford, Paul Pogba and Matteo Darmian culminated in the latter’s low cross to the edge of the penalty area. Anthony Martial found himself in the right place at the right time, though his drilled effort flashed just wide of Brad Jones’ post.
The second half brought no immediate change, with United’s defence continuing to sit surprisingly deep. Life was too easy for Feyenoord, who stroked the ball around comfortably in front of United’s rather lethargic midfield. It certainly wasn’t proving the most memorable of matches.
Reassuringly, Mourinho was about as happy with the performance as the travelling supporters, as revealed when he made a triple change just past the hour. Zlatan Ibrahimović and Memphis Depay — respectively once of Feyenoord’s domestic rivals Ajax and PSV — were introduced in place of Rashford and Martial, while Ashley Young came on for a quiet Juan Mata. The message from the dugout was clear: the manager wasn’t happy.
Unfortunately, the worst was still to come. With just over 10 minutes left, Feyenoord attacker Nicolai Jørgensen was sent surging down the right, with United’s defence caught short on the break. A great cross from the right found Tonny Vilhena arriving on the edge of the penalty area, with his shot beating David de Gea and rippling the back of the net. After a very poor United performance, they could have few complaints.