Feyenoord 1 Manchester United 0
Thursday night football was never likely to agree with a club of Manchester United's pedigree and so it proved as they slumped to a 1-0 defeat away at Feyenoord.
It was a shabby performance from United, whose starting XI showed eight changes from the side that lost 2-1 to Manchester City on Saturday. Few of the Red Devils did themselves justice with Paul Pogba largely anonymous and Anthony Martial shooting wide in the only chance of an insipid first-half.
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Only teenage striker Marcus Rashford, making his first start under Mourinho, played with any energy and imagination.
Pogba was part of a three-man midfielder that also contained Ander Herrera and Morgan Schniederlin but together the trio could not unpick the Dutch side's defence. Instead the only goal of the game came from Tonny Vilhena on 79 minutes when he collected a pass from Nicolai Jorgensen (who appeared offside) and fired past David de Gea.
Not even the second-half appearance of Zlatan Ibrahimovic transformed United's fortunes although the Swedish striker forced a sharp save from Brad Jones late on with a free-kick.
Apart from that Jones had little to do other than listen to the Dutch fans serenade him and Dirk Kuyt, both of whom used to play for United's arch rivals, Liverpool, with renditions of 'You'll never walk alone'.
United now sit bottom of pool A behind leaders Feyenoord and Turkish outfit Fenerbahce, who drew 1-1 with Ukranian side Zorya Luhansk.
Not surprisingly the defeat left Jose Mourinho in a particularly waspish mood. "Of course I'm unhappy," he snapped in the post-match interview. "We lose the game in a moment we didn't deserve to. The second half, the game was even. We were always in control. We were trying to win, they were trying not to lose. It is double unlucky because it was a clear offside."
Mourinho, who last managed a side in the Europa League in 2003, bullishly declared that United are the Europa League team "everyone wants to beat" but the manner of the defeat clearly rankled when he was asked about his players' performances. "I don't want to go in that direction," he replied. "I don't want to personalise. Obviously, some played better than others. It was the first game for some. We go back to a normal team without so many changes [against Watford]."
The defeat, added to United's disastrous Champions League campaign last seasons means the Red Devils have now lost four European away games in a row. And with defeat against Feyenoord coming just five days after losing at home to Manchester City, Mourinho is facing the first mini-crisis of his Old Trafford career.
"When you lose matches, there are no miracles in terms of the players' soul," he said. "You win matches and people are happy and full of confidence. You lose matches and people are sad and feel it. That is the normal nature of football players."
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