A fantastic performance from Memphis Depay has helped Manchester United secure a 3-1 victory in the first leg of their Champions League playoff against ten-man Club Brugge at Old Trafford this evening.
Man United made a disastrous start to the game as Michael Carrick deflected a Brugge free-kick into his own net within the first ten minutes. Fortunately for Louis van Gaal’s side, he redeemed himself just minutes later when he fired a superb ball into Memphis, who zipped past several Brugge defenders before slotting in. The goal settled United down somewhat and Wayne Rooney came close twice in quick succession.
Memphis then found himself one-on-one with Brugge keeper Sebastien Bruzzese but he chose to look for the onrushing Juan Mata rather than shooting. Unfortunately, his pass was just too long. When Memphis picked up the ball on the left flank just before half-time, shooting was the only thing on his mind and his perfect strike flew into the net to give United the lead at the break.
The 21-year-old continued his superb display after the restart and a few more curlers went wide. United looked confident but they could have easily been the makers of their own downfall as Sergio Romero’s hesitation from a Morgan Schneiderlin backpass almost led to a Brugge equaliser. Moments later, the unmarked Memphis fired over following fabulous running from Luke Shaw. Brandon Mechele was shown a second yellow card ten minutes from time and United capitalised with a goal as Memphis whipped in a wicked delivery for Marouane Fellaini to head in.
Carrick’s mixed start
It’s fair to say that the Englishman had an eventful first 15 minutes. Some sloppy passing put United under unnecessary pressure before his own goal gave Brugge the lead.
It would have easy for Carrick’s head to go down but the midfielder kept plugging away and his fine pass into Memphis led to United drawing level. Despite the assist, van Gaal would have been furious with Carrick’s erratic performance early on. The 34-year-old is supposed to be an experienced head in the middle of the park but the calmness he usually brings was nowhere to be seen during the game’s opening exchanges. Bastian Schweinsteiger came on for Carrick at half-time and his place in the starting XI may now be under threat.
Carrick’s pass for Memphis’ first goal was magnificent but the Dutchman still had a lot to do to get himself in a goalscoring position. There were shades of Eric Cantona in Memphis’ skill to take the ball past a number of opponents and his finish evoked memories of a certain Cristiano Ronaldo.
It was a superb goal and his second was equally as impressive. Cutting in from the left hand side, Memphis set his sights and curled in, giving Bruzzese no chance. His final contribution to the game was a superb delivery to set up Fellaini. It was truly a majestic performance from the youngster.
Although Memphis failed to find his shooting boots in United’s two previous fixtures, the youngster’s sheer desire to be the best has never been in question and there is no doubt whatsoever that he will score a lot more goals in a red shirt.
Rooney has been the subject of criticism following his performance against Aston Villa last week and he would have been glad for another game to come around so quickly in order to get back on track.
The captain showed endeavour up top and came close to scoring on a few occasions. One particularly delightful touch set up Memphis for what would have been one of the goals of the season but the Dutchman spurned the opportunity. Although Rooney’s display was an improvement on last week’s, there is still the sense that he has a lot more to offer. Rooney himself will be fully aware he needs to up his game and quickly.
While Memphis will take the plaudits, Schneiderlin’s work against Brugge was vital in making the team tick. Going about his job with a minimum of fuss, the Frenchman regularly found his teammates with a wide range of passing while breaking up Brugge’s attacks at the same time.
All great teams are built on players like Schneiderlin and his arrival could prove to be the transfer coup of the summer. Along with Schweinsteiger, United finally have themselves a midfield again.
Hernandez was handed a 20 minute cameo from the substitute’s bench by van Gaal and it was good to see him back in a United shirt. The Mexican went through a tough time on loan at Real Madrid last season but he is still very much a fans’ favourite at Old Trafford. He didn’t make much of an impact against Brugge but he did draw the foul which led to Mechele’s dismissal. Hernandez will need to make the most of any further opportunities he gets this term.