FIRST HALF – VILLARREAL TAKE THE LEAD

In keeping with Solskjaer’s attacking selection United began on the front foot against a Unai Emery side noted for caution rather than adventure.

Scott McTominay will have been disappointed that the first attempt on goal for the Reds after seven minutes from such a normally clean striker of the ball was dragged well wide.

The game was held up early on while Villarreal’s Foyth needed treatment for a bloodied nose as he was accidentally caught by Paul Pogba.

Considering the Spaniards seemed so reluctant to take the ball forward in possession they were still enjoying the highest number in the corner count.

United, meanwhile, were enjoying plenty of possession and Luke Shaw was desperate to see a connection from one of the Reds’ attackers after 20 minutes when the left-back drilled in a ferocious cross-cum-shot. Sadly nobody got a touch on it.

Torres headed over for Villarreal after 23 minutes and immediately after an inviting Mason Greenwood high delivery to Edinson Cavani was unusually mis-controlled in a threatening position by the Uruguayan.

United had disappointingly gone from dangerous and in attacking mode to an outfit increasingly looking a little uneasy. Villarreal made that most of that to take the lead in the 29th minute.

A free-kick from Parejo was slung into the Reds area and Villarreal’s leading scorer – Gerard Moreno – only bettered in La Liga by Lionel Messi, outfoxed all United’s defenders in close proximity with his movement and struck home with his right boot beyond David De Gea to register his 30th goal of his campaign.

United did improve in the latter half of the first 45 minutes, but Villarreal’s notorious mean defending kept us away from an alleged suspect Argentinian goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli.

Greenwood made an encouraging and dangerous driving run in the closing seconds of the half, but it was a yellow shirt that was able to get contact on it as it dropped into the arms of Rulli.

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