15th September, 2016
Manchester United produced a lacklustre display as their Europa League campaign began in defeat at Feyenoord.
Jose Mourinho made eight changes from the team beaten by Manchester City and an Anthony Martial shot going wide was their only first-half chance.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic came on for the visitors and headed wide as he failed to turn around his side’s fortunes.
Instead, Nicolai Jorgensen, who was offside, crossed for Tonny Vilhena to drive in Feyenoord’s late winner.
Ibrahimovic went close to an equaliser with a drilled free-kick but it was saved at the second attempt by former Liverpool keeper Brad Jones.
The defeat means United have lost four successive European away games in a row for the first time.
Paul Pogba, who re-joined United in a world-record £89m move from Juventus in August, had his lack of discipline and positioning heavily criticised by ex-Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher following Saturday’s derby defeat by City.
If playing alongside Ander Herrera and Morgan Schniederlin in midfield against Feyenoord was supposed to allow him freedom to display his attacking skills, Pogba failed to take the opportunity to do so.
The France international was a peripheral figure in the first half as he epitomised a lack of urgency and intensity from the visitors.
Pogba pushed further up the pitch after the break and, despite looking a little more threatening as he attempted two long-range shots which went comfortably off target, he could not find the quality to help find a way through the Dutch side’s defence.
England forward Wayne Rooney has played behind United’s main striker so far this season but was rested for this trip.
United boss Jose Mourinho claimed he had other “solutions” for the role but the poor performance of his supporting cast of players can have done little to persuade him of the strength of his other options.
The midfield trio of Herrera, Schneiderlin and Pogba, along with wingers Anthony Martial and Juan Mata, left Marcus Rashford too isolated.
Rashford, who burst on to the scene with two goals in a 5-1 Europa League win over FC Midtjylland on his Manchester United debut in February, struggled as he made his first start of the campaign.
Asked if the players who came in failed to take their chance, Mourinho said: “I don’t want to go in that direction. I don’t want to personalise. Obviously, some played better than others. It was the first game for some.”
On his selection for this coming Sunday’s Premier League trip to Watford, the manager added: “We go back to a normal team without so many changes.”
Eredivise leaders Feyenoord came into the game in good form, having won their opening five league games, scoring 15 and conceding twice in the process.
Managed by former Arsenal and Barcelona left-back Giovanni van Bronckhorst, their team included former Liverpool players Dirk Kuyt, who scored a hat-trick against United in 2011 in his time at Anfield, and Jones.
Keeper Jones had a much quieter evening than he might have expected and the Dutch side could have taken the lead in the first half when Jens Toornstra blazed high when he had time and space to shoot.
They defended with purpose to nullify United’s limited threat and were rewarded with Vilhena’s goal, even though Jorgensen was clearly offside when he supplied the cross.
Feyenoord centre-back Eric Botteghin was a forceful presence at the heart of his side’s defence
What they said:
Feyenoord manager Giovanni van Bronckhorst: “In the second half you saw that Manchester United want to win with the tempo and the three substitutions, you sensed that they want to leave here with the win.
“At the right moment we scored the goal – a fantastic goal on the counter-attack.
“After that the spirit came in the team and the determination to be there for the last 15 minutes. We fought hard to get the result and after 90 minutes we did.”
Manchester United are in Premier League action on Sunday, when they travel to Watford for a 12:00 BST kick-off. Feyenoord face a trip to PSV Eindhoven in a top-of-the-table Eredivisie match.