Manchester United concede late equaliser to give Anderlecht hope in Europa League tie

Matt Lewis
There was a twist in the tale for Manchester United against Anderlecht

Manchester United conceded a late equaliser in Belgium to give Anderlecht a ray of hope heading into the second leg of their Europa League quarter-final tie next week.

The Red Devils will still fancy their chances of progressing to the last four of the competition after grabbing a vital away goal in a 1-1 draw on Thursday night.

But they will be frustrated they could not hold out for the victory in this first leg as they looked good value for the lead before Leander Dendoncker’s late strike.

United manager Jose Mourinho shuffled his pack and made three changes to the side that beat Sunderland on Sunday.

Michael Carrick, Antonio Valencia and Marcus Rashford all came into the starting XI at the expense of Luke Shaw, Marouane Fellaini and Ander Herrera.

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Henrikh Mkhitaryan scores the opener

Young striker Rashford formed part of a threatening line-up with Jesse Lingard, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Zlatan Ibrahimovic all provided attacking outlets.

Rashford particularly impressed and could be found all over the pitch, chasing balls over the top and drifting out wideto terrorise Anderlecht’s defence.

United’s imposing strikeforce did not take long to stamp their authority and Lingard struck a post after Ibrahimvoic had been denied from close range.

It was a warning sign to the hosts and one they did not heed as Mourinho’s men found a way through shortly after the half-hour mark.

Ruben Martinez stopped Rashford’s initial attempt but Mkhitaryan was lurking to prod the loose ball home from an acute angle.

Manchester United deserved that lead and went in at half-time wondering if they could have been out of sight at the Constant Vanden Stock Stadium.

Anderlecht really needed to get themselves on the scoresheet to take some momentum into the return leg in England next week.

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic looks frustrated

It was an improved performance from the home side in the second period as they probed through the exciting Frank Acheampong.

However, Michael Carrick was a calming presence in the midfield engine room for United and kept things ticking over with nice touches and passes.

Paul Pogba forced a decent save late on as his scoring drought continued. He last found the net for the Red Devils in January.

Sergio Romero and the United defence had little to worry about on the night until a few minutes from time when Dendoncker popped up with the leveller.

Mourinho must now turn his attention to a huge Premier League fixture with his old club Chelsea on Sunday afternoon at Old Trafford.

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