Manchester United 5-0 Club Brugge
Odion Ighalo marked his first start for Manchester United with a goal as the Red Devils thrashed Club Brugge 5-0 at Old Trafford.
The Europa League last-32 tie was firmly in the balance after a 1-1 draw in Belgium last week but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made a real statement with the way he sent his team out in the second leg, demanding his side seize the initiative and control before taking the game away from Philippe Clement’s men.
Harry Maguire was denied by a goalline block from a corner while Juan Mata brought an excellent save out of Simon Mignolet, who then did brilliantly to deny Bruno Fernandes twice with his first save, tipping a piledriver onto the post, particularly special.
Club Brugge did carry a threat themselves with David Okereke wasting a one-on-one opportunity against a slipping Maguire while Mats Rits volleyed over from the edge of the box after Sergio Romero had flapped at a cross from the left.
The game took a definitive turn though in the favour of the home side in the 22nd minute when centre-back Simon Deli inexplicably dived and palmed away a Daniel James strike from the egde of the box. Admittedly the effort was on target but Mignolet may well have made the save, while the bigger surprise perhaps was it took VAR five minutes to uphold the referee’s original decision to award a penalty and send off the Ivorian.
Bruno Fernandes duly stepped up to replicate his spot-kick effort from the Watford win by hopping just before striking, this time going to the keeper’s right with Mignolet guessing wrong.
James wasted a fantastic one-on-one chance before United had the cushion of a second goal, Fernandes crossing for Mata, who laid the ball square to give Ighalo a simple tap-in, 11 minutes before the break.
Fernandes and Fred then teed up Scott McTominay – making his first start since Boxing Day – to rifle home from the edge of the box to effectively end the game as a contest, shortly before half-time.
United struggled to replicate the same sort of intensity and quality in the second period, but were always in control of the game, keeping the visitors penned into their own half for long periods.
The goals eventually came as Jesse Lingard, after capitalising on a Brugge mistake, unselfishly squared to give Fred a simple tap-in with eight minutes to go, before the Brazilian grabbed his second with a fine finish from the edge of the box with the last kick of the game.