Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera overrun as Man United upset by Midtjylland
Manchester United travelled to Herning in Denmark to play FC Midtjylland in the Europa League on Thursday, knowing that they would be facing a team that hadn't played competitively for two months and had just one win in nine before the break. This was also the side that lost 4-1 and 5-0 to Napoli earlier this season.
However, United lost 2-1 and that was a fair result. If anything, the home team could have scored a few more goals, and would have done so if not for Sergio Romero. The goalkeeper was given the nod just minutes before kickoff after David De Gea picked up an injury in the warm-up and went on to make some fantastic saves.
United should have gone a goal behind just before they conceded, but Romero kept the ball out when one on one, and his team immediately went up to the other end of the field and scored, thanks to Memphis Depay. However, sloppiness at the back, something typical of the team on Thursday, allowed Midtjylland back into the game just before half-time.
Despite a strong start to the second half, United faded away. Paul Onuachu took advantage of his side's momentum and struck from the edge of the box to secure his side a 2-1 win.
GK, Sergio Romero, 9 -- The stand-in goalkeeper did very well, making a top save from a free header early on and fending off a one-on-one before making one of the saves of the season against Onuachu. The first goal he let in took a deflection and the second was in the bottom corner and he was largely unsighted.
DF, Donald Love, 5 -- This was a fairly unremarkable game for the youngster. He got forward fairly regularly but didn't have much of an impact on the game. He was also booked for a nasty high challenge after he overran the ball in the second half.
DF, Chris Smalling, 5 -- Usually the man commanding the back four, Smalling played his part in a United defence that was all over the place. He certainly wasn't busting a gut to get to Pione Sisto before the hosts' equaliser and instead just managed to deflect the ball past Romero. At the other end, he had a free header from a Daley Blind corner, but the England international directed it across goal instead of goalbound.
DF, Paddy McNair, 5 -- Didn't get close enough to the opposition when they were attacking and added to the general disorganisation at the back.
DF, Daley Blind, 6 -- Defensively, Blind let too much go down his wing, but he put in some good crosses and corners in the attacking third.
MF, Ander Herrera, 3 -- This was one of Herrera's worst performances for United. He couldn't do much with Michael Carrick's pass in the lead up to the equaliser, but he should have put a tackle in before Sisto got his shot away. He gave the ball away time and again and was subbed off with 20 minutes left to play.
MF, Michael Carrick, 4 -- As the captain and most experienced player on the pitch, Carrick should have led the team, but he didn't. It was his poor pass to Herrera that led to the equalising goal too. He was wasteful in possession and rarely looked for the inventive pass.
MF, Jesse Lingard, 5 -- Lingard put the cross in for United's goal and had some of the side's better chances. He was wasteful with a shot on the edge of the box after Anthony Martial put the ball on a plate for the 23-year-old, then hit the crossbar with a volley.
MF, Juan Mata, 5 -- One of United's more creative players, in the first half at least, and had an excellent chance to score for himself, but his aerial prowess let him down. He bottled the tackle with Onuachu just before he scored the Danish club's second and was subbed off straight away.
MF, Memphis Depay, 7 -- Initially was hesitant when putting in the final ball after repeatedly getting himself into good positions. However, he grew into the game, having the confidence to take a free kick from distance that he got on target before doing very well to score United's only goal. He was on the floor when the ball came to him but he still got there first and put his chance away.
FW, Anthony Martial, 6 -- He is such an exciting player to watch and started the game as a huge threat, but he totally faded away in the second half. He should have been awarded a penalty early into the second half, but he stayed on his feet and set up Lingard, who fired his shot over the bar.
MF, Morgan Schneiderlin, NR -- Likely brought on to strengthen United's defensive efforts, but they still conceded with him on the pitch.
MF, Andreas Pereira, NR -- The youngster needed to come on earlier as he struggled to make any difference in the final 10 minutes.
Scott is one of ESPN FC's Manchester United bloggers. Follow him on Twitter: @R_o_M.