Manchester United suffered defeat in the hands of Feyenoord as the host ran out deserved 1-0 winners on Thursday in the Europa League opener.
Their much-changed line-up boasted quality but looked unconvincing in Rotterdam as United failed to create much, as the dutch team stifled Jose Mourinho’s men providing numerous chances.
Jose rang the changes introducing Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ashley Young and Memphis Depay but all proved to be aabortive as the men in blue failed to dominate the game.
Looked like it was going to end in a stalemate, but Feyenoord found the back of the net thanks to Tonny Vilhena after he had teed up by Jorgensen.
It wasn’t the kind of performance Mourinho expected after Saturday’s derby defeat at the hands of arc rivals Manchester City.
Anthony Martial’s strike which went off the mark was the best United could conjure in a poor first half performance that showed no sign of improvement and urgency after the break.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Memphis Depay and Ashley Young were introduced as Mourinho attempted to rally his side, but their introduction could not prevent United’s winless run extending to a sixth European trip.
They left Holland pointless as the Eredivisie leaders struck a decisive blow as offside calls against Nicolai Jorgensen ignored and his cross was turned home impressively by Vilhena.
It was a disappointing night at the ground where United won the Winners’ Cup against Barcelona in 1991, with parts of De Kuip closed this time as Feyenoord attempted to avoid triggering suspended punishments handed down by UEFA for crowd trouble.
Istanbul-based Fenerbahce and Ukraine’s Zorya Luhansk lie in wait over the coming months, which is part of the reason why Mourinho chose such a strong side for the trip to Rotterdam.
It was an impressive show of strength but the eight changes from the derby loss struggled, rarely clicking into gear.
David de Gea saved a fine effort from Steven Berghuis and a strike during the opening stages, which saw Paul Pogba’s free-kick dealt with brilliantly by Brad Jones.
The former Liverpool goalkeeper had precious little to do in the first half but will have breathed a sigh of relief in the 24th minute when Martial fizzed wide after a Matteo Darmian cross.
It was United’s only moment of inspiration in a tepid half that ended with Juan Mata just failing to reach a Marcus Rashford header, having seen Jens Toornstra flash over minutes earlier at the end of a quality Feyenoord move.
Unlike Saturday’s Manchester derby the United boss refrained from any changes at the break, which Mourinho emerged from around a minute before his players and staff.
Pogba fired wide soon after play resumed, with former Aston Villa midfielder Karim El Ahmadi doing better when coming close with his own long-range effort.
Despite the decision to change attack the Dutch side were looking most likely score, with Jorgensen blocked before Bilal Basacikoglu tried his luck.
Feyenoord fans cheered when Depay missed with a wild attempt, before the noise ratcheted up several notches. Jorgensen appeared offside when put through down the flank, making the most of defensive disarray and cutting the ball back to the edge of the box for Vilhena to turn home.
Ibrahimovic slammed a half-volley into Jan-Arie van der Heijden’s shin. Bailly headed just wide at the death.
This was United’s fourth consecutive away defeat in Europe after losses to Liverpool, Midtjylland and Wolfsburg and Mourinho really does need to return to winning ways at Watford on Sunday. “We go back to a normal team, obviously without so many changes,” Mourinho said.
Feyenoord (4-4-3): Jones; Karsdorp (Nieuwkoopat 91’), Botteghin, Van Der Heijden, Kongolo; El Ahmadi, Kuyt, Trindade; Berghuis (Basacikoglu 67’), Toornstra, Jorgensen.
Subs: Hansson, Woudenberg, Vejinovic, Tapia, Framer.
Manchester United (4-3-3): De Gea; Darmian, Smalling, Bailly, Rojo; Schneiderlin, Pogba, Herrera; Mata (Young 63’), Martial (Memphis 63’), Rashford (Ibrahimovic 63’).
Subs: Romero, Carrick, Fosu-Mensah, Fellaini.