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Feb 20, 2020 at 5.55pm UK
BruggeClub Brugge
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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer blames the ball for Manchester United draw in Brugge

:Headline: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer blames the ball for Manchester United draw in Brugge:
With little time to recover from Monday's Premier League win at Chelsea, the Reds crossed the Channel to take on the Belgian leaders.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's overriding feeling was relief after Manchester United drew at Club Brugge, where his side's poor start was compounded by the challenging conditions and a questionable Europa League match ball.

With little time to recover from Monday's Premier League win at Chelsea, the Reds crossed the Channel to take on the Belgian leaders on a wet and windy night in Bruges.

Emmanuel Dennis got Club Brugge off to a dream start after catching the normally-dependable Sergio Romero well out of position, but Anthony Martial capitalised on an error to silence the tired Jan Breydelstadion and seal a 1-1 draw.

That away goal means United have the upper hand heading back to Old Trafford for the second leg of this last-32 tie, leaving Solskjaer pleased on the whole.

Solskjaer will be hoping for better football from his side next Thursday – and in an ideal world a better ball.

Japanese manufacturer Molten provides the match balls in the Europa League and the United boss was not overly pleased with it on Thursday.

"It's just different and difficult to play with," Solskjaer said. "You can get one and try!

"But it's the same for the two teams, of course. But the conditions weren't nice, the wind and the rain.

"But anyway, strange goals for both teams. Their throw-in we scored from and a long kick straight through the middle, so lack of concentration probably from both teams there."

Thankfully Martial was concentrating when Brandon Mechele inexplicably allowed Maxim De Cuyper's thrown-in to drop, with the United forward showing pace and strength to race through before beating former Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet.

"It was a good goal today," Solskjaer said. "He wasn't really in the game before he scored the goal.

"We didn't create enough, or we didn't make enough runs in behind to create space for Anthony and it was a frustrating night for him until then.

"Then (a) good goal and then he gets a good chance with his left foot, good strike, good save by Mignolet."

That second chance hit the post but United should have been fighting an uphill battle from the outset in the view of Club Brugge head coach Philippe Clement.

Before beating Romero with a clipped effort, the video assistant referee reviewed a third-minute challenge by the Argentina international on Dennis in the box.

"For me it's a clear penalty," Clement said. "If I see the images and in some countries it's a red card, if you go with two feet forward against the leg of somebody, it's a red card.

"All the circumstances need to go your way if you're going to beat United and tonight we didn't get that."

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3Leicester CityLeicester29165858283053
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Premier League Table
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Liverpool29271166214582
2Manchester CityMan City28183768313757
3Leicester CityLeicester29165858283053
4Chelsea29146951391248
5Manchester UnitedMan Utd29129844301445
6Wolverhampton WanderersWolves29101364134743
7Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd28111073025543
8Tottenham HotspurSpurs29118104740741
9Arsenal2891364036440
10Burnley29116123440-639
11Crystal Palace29109102632-639
12Everton29107123746-937
13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle2998122541-1635
14Southampton29104153552-1734
15Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton29611123240-829
16West Ham UnitedWest Ham2976163550-1527
17Watford2969142744-1727
18Bournemouth2976162947-1827
19Aston Villa2874173456-2225
20Norwich CityNorwich2956182552-2721
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