Top five conclusions: Athletic Bilbao 2-1 Manchester United (5-3 on agg)
1. How the mighty have fallen. United exited European competition last season after being out-played by football deities Barcelona in the Champions League final. This season Sir Alex’s men were dumped out of the last 16 of the Europa League by seventh-placed La Liga side Athletic Bilbao.
2. Despite that low league position – a clear mark of the colossal strength of the Spanish top-tier – Bilbao were beautiful to watch. With buckets of individual skill combined with tenacious ball-pressing teamwork, at times Bilbao looked like Guardiola’s men in disguise.
3. Manchester United’s apparent lack of interest in the competition (bringing on Paul Pogba, who hasn’t had a sniff in the Premier League this season), shouldn’t disguise what was a truly humiliating performance in the tie. United were spanked for 180 minutes.
4. If it wasn’t for a scuffed finish, Andoni Iraola would have provided us with one of the best individual goals ever seen in a European tie after he slalomed through three United defenders with the ball super-glued to his boots. Not bad for a full-back. [See the video above]
5. Props to Bilbao’s raucous yet respectful fans. Albeit comfortably in the lead, they met Wayne Rooney’s goal and Ryan Giggs’ walk off the pitch with a round of genuine applause. The unheard of collective gesture was just as classy as Rooney’s sumptuous finish.