When Marcelo Bielsa's Athletic Bilbao Stunned Manchester United And Played Them Off The Park
Manchester United welcome Marcelo Bielsa's Leeds United to Old Trafford this afternoon and the Argentine pulled off a masterclass during his last visit as a manager.
Bielsa took his Athletic Bilbao side to Manchester for a Europa League last 16 tie back in 2012 and produced one of the best European performances in Britain.
United had dropped down from the Champions League and weren't expected to be troubled by the Spaniards, going ahead in the first half through Wayne Rooney.
But Fernando Llorente's equaliser just before half time gave United a warning, with the second half seeing them decimated by a wave of attacks.
Oscar De Marcos finished a fine team move in the 72nd minute to put Bilbao ahead and Iker Muniain added a third in the 90th minute.
It should have been more however and United had a young David de Gea to thank between the sticks, as a creaky backline couldn't handle attack after attack.
Rooney scored a penalty in added time to make it 3-2, but Bilbao's victory was thoroughly deserved.
Even legendary Red Devils boss Sir Alex Ferguson was in awe at what Bielsa had accomplished, paying his side the ultimate tribute in his post-match press conference.
"It was an outstanding performance by them, not only in their ability, but their energy was unbelievable," he explained per Goal.
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"The highest stats of any team that has played at Old Trafford in the last 10 years, in terms of the distance run. That is great credit to the desire of the team.
"They are very determined and organised, with a great belief in themselves. That is the hallmark of their coach. He has instilled these qualities in his team."
Bielsa recalled the praise from Ferguson earlier this week and said it's something he never forgot.
"He gave me praise that I never forgot," the 65-year-old explained via Pundit Arena.
'Meeting Alex Ferguson was 'like receiving a medal' says Leeds' Bielsa pic.twitter.com/hpRxo5ROqm- BeanymanSports (@BeanymanSports) December 18, 2020
"He said he wasn't surprised that Athletic had won. He also said he wasn't surprised how much our team ran to be on equal terms with them.
"What did surprise him was on the day of the game, in the morning, my team had trained for an hour-and-a-half.
"I never forgot that comment from him."
Bielsa will be hoping he can outfox one of Ferguson's former players and current United boss, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, in a similar manner.
Featured Image Credit: PA Images & UW Football - HD/YouTube
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