Paul will be here from 8pm or whenever the City match finishes. In the meantime why not read our preview of tonight's game:

Sir Alex Ferguson has warned Manchester United must "waken up" from their European malaise at Old Trafford or risk a second early exit of the season when they face Athletic Bilbao in the Europa League on Thursday night.

United have toiled at home in European competition all season and almost compounded their failure in the Champions League group phase by falling to Ajax on their debut in the Europa League.

The Amsterdam club's 2-1 win in the last-32 second-leg ended an 11-game undefeated home run for Ferguson's team in Europe and the Dutch side needed only one more goal to progress at United's expense despite trailing 3-0 on aggregate after six minutes at Old Trafford. The result also left United with only one win from four home European matches this term, and Ferguson admits a vast improvement is required against Marcelo Bielsa's impressive side.

Read the entire story here.

Preamble on the fly: Just teleported from Lisbon to Old Trafford so allow me a moment to reconstitute myself. While I do that, perhaps the United fans amongst you could cobble together an answer to this question: would you prefer City to crach out against Sporting Lisbon in this round or to meet them yourselves in the final? (I ask that there is a good chance a Bilbao victory will make it redundant later?)

Man Utd: De Gea, Rafael Da Silva, Smalling, Evans, Evra, Park, Jones, Giggs, Young, Rooney, Hernandez. Subs: Amos, Ferdinand, Anderson, Carrick, Nani, Welbeck, Fabio Da Silva.

Athletic Bilbao: Iraizoz, Iraola, Javi Martinez, San Jose, Aurtenetxe, Iturraspe, De Marcos, Ander Herrera, Susaeta, Llorente, Muniain. Subs: Raul, Toquero, David Lopez, Koikili, Inigo Perez, Ekiza, Ibai.

Referee: Florian Meyer (Germany)

2 min: Bilbao, dressed like Glentoran, make their intentions clear right from the off, going for United's jugular. There's zip and precision to their play and United are struggling to get a touch.

3 min: No sooner do United get the ball than they create a prime chance, but Giggs' shot from 10 yards is blocked by San José.

4 min: This is a great opening to the game, and amid a superb-sounding atmosphere to boot. Llorente almost sends the already-boisterous visiting contingent into raptures by holding off Smalling and flashing a curling drive just past the post from the edge of the box.

7 min: Freekick to United in a good crossing position on the right after Aurtenetxe pulls back Young. Giggs curls it into the danger zone but Iraizoz, unlike Joe Hart earlier today, punches decisively away.

9 min: This is rip-roaring stuff, with both sides going at each other like basketball teams, taking it in turns to attack. Rooney just slipped Park through with a canny reverse pass but Bilbao converged on the Korean to close out the chance.

12 min: Rooney is looking good early doors, constantly coming deep to play incisive balls. In other news, you may have read about the United fanzine Red Issue contemplating suing police. You might also like to read Red Issue's editoral explaining their thinking.

15 min: After an exhilarating opening the match has become a tad ragged, but the intent of both teams' remains admirably positive. So we've either got a classic on our hands or a chaotic thrillride. Or both. Or a mess.

18 min: Any United fans getting flashbacks watching this Llorente lad? He has a touch of Van Nistelrooy about him.

19 min: Iraizoz races out of his box to head clear a through-ball before Rooney could connect with it.

20 min: United are seriously rattled here and should have conceded a penalty a moment ago when Smalling tugged back Llorente in the box. But the ref gave a free the other way instead. "Re: your question in the preamble: It's easy," gaps Matt Exton. "City go all the way but lose the final and Utd crash out now and focus on League. Let's skelp City in the league and take the title."

GOAL! United 1-0 Bilbao (Rooney 22') United had been reeling for most of the previous 20 minutes by the speed, precision and the sheer numerical force of Bilbao's attack. But then they strike back with a splendid goal. Giggs scampered into the box and nudged the ball through to Hernandez, who twisted and turned trickly before firing a wicked low shot at goal. Iraizoz dived low to save well but Rooney follwed up to prod the rebound into the net! That won't be the last of the scoring tonight.

25 min: Young aborts a promising United attack with a wayward pass. It was intended for Hernandez, who would have been clean through.

27 min: Corner to Athletic. Susaeta takes. It's poor. So poor that Evans clears.

29 min: This match is so fast the players should be clad into those Formula 1 driver suits rather than jerseys. Llorente will score tonight. He's just gone close again with a decent header that flew just over. "That was a superb save from the Bilbao keeper before Rooney tucked away the rebound," gulps Francis Lee. "Has the Guardian ever had a Youtube special of ace saves consigned to the dusty archives for ultimately failing to prevent a goal being scored?" Don't remember, but probably. Google it, man, Google it.

32 min: Just as their team is being largely ourtplayed, United fans are being outshouted and outsung ... and now, as United finally enjoy a bout of possession, outwhistled.

33 min: What a miss! That should have been 1-1! Susaeta got the jump on the dozing Evans to race on to a clipped pass over the top. De Gea came surging off his line to block but had no chance of getting there and basically just invited the elementary lob ... but Susaeta lifted it over him and wide!

36 min: United are being given the run-around here. Bilbao really are a delight; they attack with such speed and numbers that at times they look capable of blowing United apart. It is a minor miracle that they are not yet level, at least. Well, maybe not a miracle: the truth is that their finishing has not been of the same level as the build-ups. Iraola offered an example just now as, with four players awaiting a pull-back, he chose to shoot from a narrow angle, allowing De Gea to fob it behind for a corner.

40 min: After withstanding more battering from Bilbao, United break forward and Rooney launches a long cross towards Hernandez, but Iraizoz intercepts with all the mean authority of a vigilant customs officer.

42 min: Fine work again by Rooney, who is the principal conduit of United's counter-attacks. But again his cross is cut out before it could reach Hernandez.

GOAL! United 1-1 Bilbao (Llorente 44') That was inevitable. And it was excellent. The highly impressive Llorente collected the ball at the edge of the area, held it up well and then shunted it wide to Suasaeta. The centreforward then darted into the area to receive the ensuing cross as Phil Jones stood and stared, and then sent an emphatic diving header past De Gea from eight yards.

Half-time: What an exhilarating half of football! Bilbao are giving United a proper seeing-to, though the hosts have also attacked with menace when given the chance. Bilbao have the away goal that complicates United's chances of progressing but they certainly do not seem inclined to settle for that and look perfectly capable of scoring a couple more tonight. You get the feeling United will have to do likewise.

David De Gea is apparently a big Metallica fan. He may, therefore, appreciate this Bilbao performance, which could only be accurately soundtracked by this (skip the ad).

Right on: "Athletico come from the notoriously uncompetitive Spanish league, but even if they are playing like a lower-level High-speed Barcelona clone, they're looking every part the equal of the premiership's second best team," thunders Ben Dunn. "The lesser teams in the premiership clone passion and aggression and couldn't live with this side."

46 min: United get the second half going. Ferguson presumably gave them the hairdryer treatment at half - but given that their heads were probably already spinning from the Bilbao onslaught, what good can that do? "On the subject of great saves leading to goals, I seem to remember Bob Wilson saying his greatest save was in a Cup final (I think) when he tipped the goal round the post for a corner, which was promptly played in and ended up in the back of the net," recalls John davis. "He still seemed to have an air of wistful bitterness forty years on, if that is possible."

47 min: More pandemonium in the United box as again Bilbao throw in as many attackers as there were defenders. After a couple of blocked shots. however, united manage to scramble it away.

49 min: Smart save from De Gea to tip away a 20-yard drive fropm Munian. Bilbao continue to batter their hosts.

51 min: Smalling strides out of defence and into the Bilbao half. But in the face of the ferocious Bilbao pressing is forced to turn around and pass the ball all the way back to De Gea.

52 min: Bilbao are threatening more quickly than I can type! Moments after they sliced United apart only for Llorente to blast wide from 10 yards, they do so again, and this time De Gea is forced into another flying save. Without him United would be on course for humiliation. They may still get there.

54 min: United are down to 10 men after Smalling walks off the pitch, seemingly injured, and Carrick gets dressed with a view to coming on. In your own time, Michael.

56 min: Some respite for United, in the form of a freekick about 25 yards from Bilbao's goal. Rooney curls a reasonable effort wide.

58 min: Two minutes without a Bilbao shot: United are improving. meanwhile, the Llorente fan club is growing: "At long last a proper big lad up front who can not only head the ball into the net, but can also hold it up and knock the centre-halves over without looking clumsy," cooes Ian Burch. "I thought these type of strikers were extinct. Go on big fella, put yourself about." Let's see now, if Andy Carroll is worth £35m, that makes Llorente worth how much?

60 min: Suasaeta dinks in a freekick. Evans heads up in the air. It falls to a Bilbao player (not sure how) but he smashes it over the bar from 14 yards.

62 min: You have to admire United for hanging in there and continuing to use the scraps of possession to piece together dangerous moves of their own. Hernandez should have done better with a chance just now but dawdled before shooting, and Giggs then troubled the visitors with a jinking run into the box before being bustled back out of it.

64 min: San José booked for bringing down Hernandez after the Mexican and turned nimbly past him.

65 min: United substitution: Park off, Anderson on. Ferguson is trying to bolster midfield to stem the flow towards United's goal.

68 min: That would have been a brilliant goal! But again Bilbao were denied by De Gea. Muniain showed tremendous close control and trickery to beat two defenders and then exchange a neat one-two, but De Gea turned his shot out for a corner.

70 min: Carrick has made a difference to United since coming on, giving them a degree of composed steadiness in midfield. But still Bilbao look like unhingeing them every time they regain the ball.

GOAL! United 1-2 Bilbao (De Marcos 72') That's a beautiful goal, thoroughly in keeping with one of the most impressive away performances at Old Trafford in recent memory. After rapid tiki-taka around the United box, Herrera lifted the ball into the path of the in-rushing De Marcus, who swept it emphatically into the net. He may have been in an offside position when he started his run but if he was that minor injustice makes up for the injustice of Bilbao not already being in the lead before now. Sort of.

75 min: United change: Giggs off, Nani on. A pertinent point by Jan Lofgren: "Who needs Champions League when the Europa League is giving us games like this?" It has been a belter.

76 min: Rooney attempts to recreate Young's second goal against Spurs from the weekend, but fails.

78 min: Dangerous cross by Nani, well dealt with by Martinez. Bilbao: winning friends and inlfuencing people. "I though La Liga was a poor league with just two decent teams - I was wrong?" confesses Bob McNutt. "This lot are like Barça on speed. A joy to watch. They deserve a standing ovation fat Ronaldo style at the final whistle." Olé to that.

80 min: Spanking drive by Rooney from 30 yards. Well held by the keeper.

81 min: Bilbao substitution: Llorente gets a well deserved ovation after a dominant display. He is replaced by Toquero. In other news, as ITV discuss Bilbao's second goal it becomes clear that Graham taylor, who used to manage England, doesn't know the offside law.

83 min: Fittingly, United's best player tonight has been a Spaniard (but not a Basque, admittedlty). De Gea has jsut been forced to make another fine one-handed save, this time from Toquero after a lightning Bilbao break.

85 min: Young clambers all over Martinez, conceding a freekick on half-way. Bilbao build anew. No sign of United getting an equaliser here. "Spanish teams only look bad compared to Barca and Real," snorts Chris Cherry. "They're still streets ahead of English teams right now."

88 min: For the first time in the evening Bilbao are sitting deep, seemingly content to hold on for 2-1. But they are defending as diligently as they had been attacking and United can't get close to the danger zone. "I saw Bilbao play Barca a few years ago," announces Seán Ó Riain. "At the time they were third in La Liga, only 25 points or so off the lead. But for the ten minutes or so Barca let them have the ball they looked really, really good. Then Barca brought Xavi on and they Bilbao never got the ball again." So what you're saying is, United should bring on, um, Danny Welbeck?

GOAL! United 1-3 Bilbao (90') That is another glorious goal! Evans and Jones colided with each other in the air, allowing De Marcos to race through and draw another save from De Gea. The goalkeeper couldn't hold it - he should have - and Rafael didn't seem aware that the ball was in his vicinity so just watched as the excellente Munian raced in at fired into the net!

GOAL! United 2-3 Bilbao (Rooney, pen, 90+2 min) Rooney sends the keeper the wrong way from the spot after De Marcos handled, giving the game a scoreline that flatters United.

Full-time: That was a bona fide thriller. Bilbao put on a performance that has seldom been equalled by an away team at Old Trafford, blowing the hosts apart. Only repeated saves by De Gea and United's characteristic refusal to buckle prevented this tie from being over. It sets up a mouth-watering return leg. On today's evidence, anyone hoping for an all-Manchester Europa League final is going to be disappointed. And anyone who thinks the Premier League is the best in the world is wrong. And anyone who thinks the Europa League is a rubbish tournament is also wrong. So there.