5 Talking Points from Anderlecht vs. Manchester United


It was a share of the spoils between RSC Anderlecht and Manchester United as they drew 1-1 at the Constant Vanden Stock in the first-leg of the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals. Henrikh Mkhitaryan continued his fine goalscoring run by scoring the opener from a tight angle and awarded the visitors with a vital away goal. However, United were in for a rude shock when Anderlecht midfielder Leander Dendoncker netted the equalizer four minutes from time. 

There were certain incidents or instances that might have failed to catch your attention during the game. Here we bring you the 5 such things you missed:



There's no need to introduce Michael Carrick or to describe his importance in the United setup. Even at the age of 35-year-old, the midfielder continues to remain the lynchpin of United midfield and his sublime individual display on the night exactly showed why he is worthy of a contract extension. In the absence of Wayne Rooney who didn't travel with the squad to Brussels, the former Tottenham Hotspur man was given the honor of leading the team.



Anderlecht, on the other hand, had an interesting choice for the same as 19-years-old Youri Tielemans led the Purple and White onto the pitch. The teenager is regarded as one of the finest young talents around in the game at the moment and holds the record for being the youngest Belgian to make his Champions League debut at the age of 16 years and 148 days. Tielemans is enjoying his most prolific season with his boyhood club having scored 18 goals and assisted 7 goals.


Currently linked with domestic rivals Everton, Tottenham Hotspur and high-flying Ligue 1 side AS Monaco, he has been often talked up as an ideal successor to Carrick's throne in recent years. Tielemans did indeed exhibit some of the attributes which allows him to be seen in the same light as the veteran midfielder, though he failed to make much of an impression on the night. Whether he comes to Old Trafford or not solely depends on Jose Mourinho, he still has a chance of forcing himself into the Portuguese's plans provided he plays better next Thursday at Old Trafford.



An expertly finished 37th-minute strike from the Armenian provided United with the precious away goal that will give them the edge going into the return leg next Thursday. The goal took Mkhitaryan's tally in the competition to 4 goals, each of those scored away from home. The 28-year-old is the first Red Devil since Ruud van Nistelrooy to have scored in four consecutive away matches in Europe.



In the context of this season, it shouldn't come as a surprise to see him score away from Old Trafford. Mkhitaryan has now scored 9 goals this season across all competitions and just a third of it have been netted at the Theatre of Dreams. Also, the goal has brought him within a strike of going level with United's second-highest goalscorer of the season Juan Mata. Considering the Armenian's season began in the last week of November when United hosted Feyenoord in the very competition, this is an achievement worth all the appreciation. Imagine how different things could have been for both Mkhitaryan and Manchester United had he been a regular fixture in the lineup right from day one. 




Manchester United were easily the better of the two sides for almost the entirety of the match. They had the complete control over the gears, so much so that Sergio Romero barely had anything to do with the goal apart from picking the balls up for taking the goal kick. Anderlecht were trying hard for the equalizer yet couldn't find a hole in United defense and on a few occasions when they finally found a way through, the United defense  were on the spot to make it sure either they got to the ball first or the ball doesn't go past them.


But like what has become a norm for them this season, United failed to put the game to bed and kept on fluffing their chances. Of their 16 attempts on goal, 7 were on target but the Red Devils had only a goal to show for all their fluid and attacking football. Towards the end of the match, Paul Pogba had a sizeable portion of the net to aim at to seal the match and potentially, the tie as well but the low shot he fired was well within the reach of Anderlecht goalkeeper Ruben and he comfortably tipped it away. And a couple of minutes later, deja vu. It became all square when Ivan Obradovic's looping ball was met by Leander Dendoncker to head home the equalizer past Romero, who was forced into some serious action for the first and only time in the match. Coincidentally, it was Anderlecht's first shot of the game. 



Another great chance to virtually wrap up the tie wasted and the inability to finish off the chances once again causing the United faithful to shake their heads in disgust. It won't be a bad idea though if Jose Mourinho takes a tip or two from his counterpart Rene Weiler on how to make his side more accurate in front of goal. 



The 75th-minute of the game witnessed something unique as the cheers and the jeers were ringing around the stadium simultaneously. While the cheers were for the 25-goal striker Lukasz Teodorczyk who came off the bench to replace Isaac Kiese Thelin, Marouane Fellaini entered the pitch at the same moment and the hostile home crowd booed in a chorus to welcome the man who once played for Anderlecht's fierce rivals Standard Liege. Every time he touched the ball, ear-deafening boos rang around the stadium in his honour.



But following the events on 86th-minute, Manchester United fans were quick to join the party albeit on social media. The Belgian got berated by the Red Devils faithful for not closing down and putting enough pressure on Ivan Obradovic, and the left-back delivered the cross that led to the equalizer. From 'Captain, Leader, Legend', the 28-year-old once re-established himself as the villain within a matter of days or should I say minutes.

One Arsenal fan got so excited that he did a throwback to the moment when Arsenal equalized in a similar fashion against Manchester United earlier in the season at Old Trafford, further rubbing salt into the already wide open wounds.

Look what you have done Marouane Fellaini.



Jose Mourinho has often faced criticism for his man-management at Manchester United. One of his criticisms has been the way he has treated Anthony Martial. The Frenchman was United's star player last term with an impressive 17 goals in his debut campaign. However, the introduction of Zlatan Ibrahimovic has forced him on the back burner and the Swede also took over his jersey number without asking him. The incident angered the 21-year-old so much that he unfollowed club's official Twitter account for a day. Game time has been hard to come by for Martial as well as he spends the majority of his time sitting among the subs. 



The fans have unconditionally sided with him but looking at the way he performed against the Belgian in his half-an-hour cameo, they seem to already have had enough of the Frenchman. Replacing Jesse Lingard in the 63rd-minute, it's hard to recollect a single moment when the 2015 Golden Boy award winner got past his man on the left-wing. There were a handful of openings for the taking for the visitors but Martial often misplaced his final ball, ruining those chances. United supporters got incensed by his ineffective display on show and were quick to vent their frustration. 



The winger did endure a tough time on the field and certainly won't be eager to check out on his various social media accounts for the time being.

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