Athletic Bilbao carried on where they left off at Old Trafford, outplaying Manchester United and knocking them out of the Europa League with a 2-1 victory
Ahoy hoy: This should be a treat. The first leg between Athletic Bilbao – always pronounced Bilba–yo in my youth – and Manchester United was exhilarating. Athletic's amazing switches of tempo and their intelligent movement and dynamic pressing caused United all sorts of problems. You could see the Marcelo Bielsa philosophy in action in the way they tried to hustle each United player in possession and this afternoon I'd expect Sir Alex Ferguson to pick players such with the technique and courage not to be hurried into giving the ball away cheaply, with Rio Ferdinand coming in at the back to replace Chris Smalling. Manchester United have been better on the road in Europe this season and they are capable of scoring two. Whether they can keep Bilbao from scoring, though, I'm not so sure. Bielsa famously once said: "There are 36 different forms of communicating through a pass". The ones that communicate threat are the ones United have to silence here. The teams have just been on Five, with Rio Ferdinand and Tom Cleverley starting. I'll type them up and have them for you in five minutes.
Athletic Bilbao: Iraizoz, Aurtenetxe, Amorebieta, Javi Martinez, Iraola; De Marcos, Iturraspe, Ander Herrera: Muniain, Llorente, Susaeta.
Substitutes: Raul, Toquero, San Jose, David Lopez, Inigo Perez, Ekiza, Ibai.
Manchester Utd: De Gea, Rafael Da Silva, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra; Carrick, Cleverley, Giggs; Park, Rooney, Young.
Substitutes: Amos, Smalling, Hernández, Welbeck, Fábio Da Silva, Scholes, Pogba.
Referee: Cuneyt Cakir (Turkey)
Over the past few years Manchester United have routinely opted for Park's wasp-in-a-bottle energy in key European ties. It'll be interesting to see if he can stretch the Bilbao defence as well as doing his admirable defensive work. I would have started with Chicharito through the middle and Rooney wide on the left as a one-off instead of Ashley Young. But my trophy cabinet is bare. It will be interesting to see if Cleverley is match fit enough to cope with the pressure he's likely to face. Bold decision and a huge statement of faith in him from Sir Alex Ferguson.
Keen anticipation and muted optimism: "One English team has already come back from a deficit to progress in Europe in style, "writes Joe Deasy. "I wouldn't bet my house on it just yet, but this should be a thriller."
I wouldn't have been surprised, given the amount of adverts Five shows for the franchises, if the broadcaster hadn't billed this "CSI Bilbao".
Here come the teams, United in blue and black hoops. Wonderful noise from the stands, so loud that Stan Collymore and Dave Woods are having to shout. Joe Deasy writes on SAF's pre-match demeanour: "Oh cr@p. He has his on-paper-we-really-should-win-this-but-let's-see-what-happens-face on." Precisely, Joe.
1 min: Marvellous millinery in the crowd. Bilbao kickl off, Llorente playing it out to the left but when they shift the ball to the right an interception sets Park off on a run up the flank and a decent ball through to Rooney who speeds past Iraola and crosses across goal but no one had made the run to meet it.
3 min: Bilbao free kick on the edge of the box after Carrick knocks down Herrera. He was played into trouble by Ferdinand's hospital pass to him out of defence.
4 min: Susaeta takes the free-kick with his right foot, curling towards De Gea's left post. It takes a deflection and goes out for a corner.
5 min: The first corner comes to nothing but De Marcos wins another 30 seconds later that United clear a little clumsily but when the ball breaks to Rafael he sets off up the right touchline and passes it to Park. The South Korean hits an earlky looping cross into the box, too far ahead of Rooney and Young.
7 min: Athletic's pressing is as aggressive as it was at Old Trafford, forcing mistakes. It must be irritating and discomfiting to be harrassed like this. Young, though, makes a forward run up the lefta nd is found from the goalkick. He beats Iraola and whips in a cross too far in front of the runs made by Rooney and Giggs.
9 min: For once Bilbao stand off their man and Cleverley makes progress through the middle, dribbling 20 yards and slipping a pass through to Young whose shot is blocked by the diving Iraizoz. Bilbao go straight up the other end and win a corner that is overhit and Evra takes it beyond the back post under pressure and sets Park off.
11 min: The home fans are whistling as United enjoy a spell of possession and the TV producer's obsession with seeing what the managers are doing means I didn't see Rafael bring down Muniain. From the free kick De Marcos gets the ball on the right, cuts infield and hits a tame shot with his left foot.
13 min: Here's Nick Pettigrew: "Sounds like they've turned on the microphones to pick up the home fans cheering tonight, unlike at Old Trafford where for some reason only the mics at the away end seemed to be working." B'doom tish, Nick. Javi Martinez has a Beckenbauer run out from the back under little pressure and he threads a pass through to Llorente who flicks it Muniain. His hot hits the post and the rebgound is spooned wide. Lovely move and so close to scoring.
16 min: Good link up play between Cleverley and Rooney on the edge of the box works a position for a shot. Cleverley's is blocked but Park is hassled off the ball when he casually tries to pick up the rebound. He may have had an arm around his neck but the referee didn't give the foul. They're having a real go. "People may not remember but didn't Jack Charlton invent the pressing game with the Ireland squads he managed!" writes Donkey Bhoy. Green swarm, I remember it well. Wilson won't agree that he invented it, though.
18 min: Park feeds off the scraps when Evra falls after a run that took him past Susaeta. Park rolls it to Rooney 25 yards out and he angles a pass intended for Cleverley's run but Amorebieta cits it out.
21 min: United do look better in possession tonight but they are leaving alarming gaps on the break that Bilbao swarm into. It's frenetic. And hugely enjoyable to watch.
23 min: As Andrew Carswell pertinently points out I haven't given you the first leg score anywhere. It's 3-2 to Bilbao. Giggs makes a good run through the inside right gap but can'ty hold on to it. Bilbao then break with devastating speed but the final ball is too heavy by Llorente and Ferdinand blocks his run, fairly.
GOAL!! Bilbao 1-0 Man Utd (Llorente)
24 min: What a goal. A long diagonal pass from Aurtenetxe, 50 yards or so. Llorente drifted off his marker as he ran into the box and volleyed it with the side of his foot from 15 yards across goal and into the corner. Great finish. Great pass.
26 min: The pass for the goal went inches over Ferdinand's head and he probably gambled that the finish would have top be superb for Llorente to score from there. And it was.
27 min: United keep hold of the ball, passing it around 25 yards from goal, probing and looking for an opening. Bilbao players hustle each man but United work it out to the left and Young puts in a fine cross to the far post where Park meets it on his forehead. Aurtenetxe blocks and United have a corner. When it comes in, though, they're penalised for a foul on the keeper.
30 min: United are playing well going forward but Bilbao are defending with real skill and spirit. Giggs at the right post hooks back a pass from Young's cross to Cleverley on the edge of the box and he goes down when tapped on the shin but the referee didn't judge it a foul.
32 min: Justin Kavanagh has a riff on the famous 36: "So which of Bielsa's 36 forms of communication did Aurtenetxe use with that 50-yard pass? I think the message was buenas noches ingleses!" Very good, Justin.
34 min: I don't usually like it when the cameras are positioned this high in the stands. It's like watching Subbuteo sometimes. But today it lets you see how fast Bilbao close players down which is truly impressive. Rooney is penalised when he seemed to be fouled himself on the edge of the Athletic box. There's no conspiracy here but United haven't been awarded many of the fouls they've thought were theirs.
36 min: Long, looping cross from Giggs to Rooney at the far post where he dives to head it but it's blocked and goes out for a corner. "So what do you think is more likely to happen?" asks David Correia. "United come back to win 3-1 tonight or Llorente wears a Man Utd jersey next year?" Neither, David. Llorente will go to Real Madrid won't he?
38 min: Again the final ball into the box from United, this time Rooney, is cut out by Amorebieta and Athletic break quickly. United haven't committed too many defenders forward and they stem the counter.
40 min: Llorente is injured and about to come off, replaced by Toquero.
41 min: "With the long ball to the big man up front for the goal Bilbao suddenly looked like Harry Bassett's Blades," writes Ian Burch. "Except I'm not sure Deane, Whitehouse or Cork would have reached it let alone bury it." Tony Agana neither, Ian.
42 min: Rafael falls and a promising move breaks down when Rooney had won the ball, turned it to the full-back then sped off to receive it. Rafael looks to have done his ankle, slipping on a divot.
44 min: Rafael hobbles back on. "TV producers. Drives me nuts," writes Steve Foster. "Why can't the TV guys make use of that new-fangled 1980s' picture-in-picture technology?" What became of that? It was the future once, but never the present. Rooney and Giggs combine to draw the defnce and Rooney plays a lovely reverse pass with his right foot from the centre of goal to the onrushing left winger. Young darts on to it but it runs too close to the keeper and his shot is blocked. United waste the corner.
45 min: Athletic are in "slow" mode, taking ages to knock the ball forward from the keeper and when they finally do United regain it through De Gea who cips it up to halfway and the referee blows for half-time.
Half time: Back with some emails in eight minutes.
Half-time emails: Here's Jijin John: "I'll admit that I don't watch La Liga. But do Bilbao play like this all the time? I thought last week was an aberration. Do other teams in La Liga press like this against Real Madrid and Barça? I mean the pressing is ridiculous. I propose that the next pundit who does a wet Stoke night remark be given a good whack behind their head." In their 2-2 draw against Barcelona they pressed like this, but your point about the Stoke cliche holds. "But seeing United are out, I feel like Ron Burgundy screaming in a telephone booth, in a glass case of emotion," writes Thomas Racine. "Park was a bad choice. Surely this is the time to bring on a cool chap like Berbatov, who could simultaneously hold off two Bilbao centre-backs while lighting one up." Berbarotica in Bilbao? Could he shake off the rust?
"If Bilbao are able to give United such a traumatic tie, how good must Mourinho's Real be?" asks Hugh Collins. "I know Barça get all the plaudits for their superhuman performances, and JM seems capable of offending every single person he meets, but Real are on track to win La Liga without dropping so much as a bead of perspiration." I watched them last night, Hugh, and the answer is very, very good. Ozil was outstanding, better even than Ronaldo I thought. They went very slack at the back for the last 15 minutes, though, but were probably cruising.
46 min: Andrew Mullinder asks, a propos of Llorente's stunning strike, ow long will it be before we see a goal like this again? Ah, the Menace. That was even better than Llorente's. Here's a good point from Mark Hammond: "Germany et al must have thought that with Villa injured and Torres utter pants the Euros might be a happier hunting ground than last time around. The form of Llorente and Soldado surely crushing that hope …" Indeed, Mark. United kick off and almost immediately put the ball out for a throw.
47 min: Muniain gives away a free kick when he wrestles with rafael who seems to have recovered but they lose possession abruptly and the ball has to go back to the goalkeeper when they win it back deep.
48 min: Rasping shot from Susaeta but it was sliced from 20 yards and flew five yards wide.
50 min: Now Iraola finds some space in the United box when Muniain finds him with a dinked pass. He tries to square it but Ferdinand cuts it out. It's all Athletic now, United hanging on but their hold is precarious.
51 min: Free kick for Athletic from 30 yards when Evra brings Susaeta down. They try to chip it on to Toquero's head and succeed but he gets too much power in his backhead flick and balloons it over the bar.
53 min: Another fast break when United mishit a pass in the centre circle and the ball flies out to Toquero down the right. Evra blocks his cross. "In response to Steve Forster, the American Broadcasters (ABC I think) of the 94 World Cup used the picture in picture technology to allow commercials to be played during the live feed, " writes David Correia. "Thank god, that didn't catch on! With that said I'm still waiting for the large R at the top of the television screen used during replays to ensure you didn't get confused with live action to make a comeback. "
55 min: Hell's teeth. An awesome amount of skill from Iraola, Ricky Villa-ing his way into the box, past Evans, past Carrick, dribbling, stopping, turning and when he gets a shot on goal he steers it wide with his left foot.
57 min: United make their first significant attack of the half thanks to Giggs' tenacity backtracking and tackling to win the ball off Toquero. The ball is shuttled forward by Cleverley but Rooney is hustle off the ball in the box and has to check his run, losing possession. Bilbao come straight back up the field, Susaeta flying up the right and centreing to Toquero who has a shot from 20 yards which he spoons over the bar.
59 min: This is a beating United are taking.
61 min: Rafel booked for handball when the ball through to Muniain went past him.
62 min: "United are getting absolutely ripped! Is this really the best team in the Premiership? Don't forget most of this team come from the Basque Country - no expensive foreign imports here. And who is Guardiola's guru? Bielsa - spot any similarities?" Oh, yes. The Emperor's new Premiership is naked tonight.
63 min: United are going to make two substitutions, a symbol of throwing in the towel as Ferdinand and Carrick make way for Smalling, in scrum cap, and Pogba. Saving them for Sunday.
GOAL!! Athletic Bilbao 2-0 Manchester United (Evans og)
65 min: Cross from the right after Iraola beat Evra for pace arrows in to the near post. Toquero goes up for it but doesn't win it, De Marcos pounces on it when the ball bounces down, turns inside and lashes a shot that Evans deflects over the diving De Gea.
67 min: Giggs off for Welbeck. Lee Kelly ho, ho, hos: "If Man United crash out tonight, which league/tournament do they get parachuted into next?" Now, now Lee.
70 min: Bilbao play keepball for a minute, switching it from flank to flank inside their own half until Pogba stops their thrust and frees Rafel up the right bujt he can't find Rooney or Welbeck.
72 min: Pogba booked after a rangy run ends when teh ball skips away from him and he scissor-tackles Herrera.
74 min: Muniain and Aurtenexte get behind Rafel and the latter drags a cross back to Susaeta whose shot glides wide. The positional flexibility as well as the pressing have been hugely impressive. Such zip about their movement. Such intelligence about their runs.
75 min: Toquero heads over from six-yards at the near post after the left-back Aurtenetxe flies up the right wing and storms into the box. "Most of players from Basque country??" harrumphs Luis> "It's not most of them but ALL of them." I thought it was of Basque heritage and Navarre, too, no?
78 min: Welbeck wins a free-kick when pushed in the back and when they attack up the right, Rooney goes down injured, clutching his right ankle. He gets up and gives it a rub, wincing, trying to run it off. "It looks like the-picture-within-the picture tonight should be showing a replay of 1994's Barcelona 4–0 United," writes Justin Kavanagh. "The difference, though, as anonymous on min 62 pointed out, is that this is no Catalan Dream Team giving England's finest a chasing." Anonymous was Henry Carter. Apols to him.
GOAL!! Athletic Bilabo 2-1 Manchester United (Rooney)
81 min: Brilliant curling shot from Rooney's right foot from the edge of the box after dipping his shoulder to lose his man and change feet.
83 min: "Today we feel so proud of the Athletic de Bilbao!" writes Susana Unzurrunzaga. "And the best are the Bilbao's supporters. This is part of the secret of its sucess." The fans have been great tonight Susana. Top class, particularly the reception they gave Giggs when he went off. However much Five may want a re-run of "that night in Barcelona" it's not going to happen.
85 min: De Marcos traps a pass in the box on the right and flashes a shot across goal. Great skill to control it. Martinez wins a foul off Pogba when he darts between him and Evra and hits the deck.
86 min: Free kick from 30 yards taken by the substitute Perez hits the wall and goes out for a corner.
87 min: Free kick from 30 yards taken by the substitute Perez hits the wall and goes out for a corner.
88 min: Muniain goes off and San José comes on for Bilbao. Meanwhile Patrick Dwyer channels his fears: "I wish I could say that Fergie tanked this one to focus on the league, but United will win most of their premiership games with this lineup. They have been outclassed by a team that is 33 points(!) behind Real Madrid in the, supposedly, inferior La Liga. I am a United fan and am worried, very worried, about their future European ambitions.
89 min: United win a corner from Welbeck's drive. The ball comes back out to Cleverley who is fouled. Young crosses into a packed box and Amorebieta nuts it clear.
90 min: United have the ball at the back and lump it forward and lose it as three minutes of time have been added on.
90 min+2 Martínez storms through the middle but Smalling halts his progress with a Row Z clearance.
Final whistle: That was a compelling and at times frightening performance from Bilbao. Wonderful. I've got to go and do the City game so no time for a post-mortem so here's the penultimate word from Mark Hounsell: "I'm a United fan who's been living in Bilbao for 26 years. What can you say? This has always been a very proud team, but they have NEVER played football like this, so it really is hats off to Bielsa." And to his marvellously bright and industrious players. United were thoroughly beaten and are out. See you from the Etihad if you fancy it. Thanks for your company.