Luke Shaw injury adds to Manchester United’s woes

Left back suffered suspected broken leg against PSV Eindhoven

 

PSV Eindhoven 2 Manchester United 1

This was a night of deep dismay for Manchester United. On their re-entry into the Champions League group stage Luke Shaw suffered a horrific injury, and Louis van Gaal’s side lost a match they should have won to begin the phase in poorest possible fashion.

To United’s credit they can rightly claim to have dominated PSV Eindhoven. Yet Van Gaal will know they have to be more streetwise to prosper in a competition that can be unforgiving. Victory is now required when Wolfsburg visit Old Trafford in a fortnight to get their campaign up and running.

United were unlucky to go into the break not leading though the way they responded to Shaw’s sickening injury had been impressive.

At kick-off the sight of Anthony Martial lining up as the centre forward for the 19-year-old’s first start gladdened the football romantic. After his debut wonder-strike against Liverpool on Saturday here was a chance for the teenager to dazzle under the continental lights.

Yet Van Gaal suggested the move was forced, saying: “Anthony Martial scored a goal, but Wayne Rooney is injured and Marouane Fellaini is a little bit ill so I didn’t have any other choice. He had to play.”

The captain’s hamstring issue meant he had not travelled. Fellaini’s malady was minor enough for him to still be a replacement. This all meant Martial was fast-tracked into the team. Yet he had come close to missing the bus to the Philips Stadion and who knows how Van Gaal might have reacted if this had occurred.

The youngster who cost €49 million began as he left off at Old Trafford, proving one of United’s finest first-half performers. His addition has added further zest to the team following Van Gaal’s recruitment of Memphis Depay at the start of the summer.

Each have pace and directness. Depay, 21, had spoken about how he and Martial could aid each other as they begin their United careers. Inside 10 minutes the two combined impressively. Depay found space along his left corridor and zipped a cross into the near post area that Martial turned towards Jeroen Zoet, though he failed to beat the goalkeeper.

Depay also mentioned how he and another of the Van Gaal young guns, Shaw, are helping each other. The 20-year-old has started the campaign in flying form. On 15 minutes, though, he suffered his awful injury due to a burst of speed that took him clear into the PSV area. There, Héctor Moreno challenged him, and as the ball rolled away there was the desperate sight of the left back lying absolutely still on the turf near Zoet’s goal.

Shaw required oxygen and was still prone nine minutes later before finally being taken off on a stretcher-trolley with a suspected broken leg. This was awful for Shaw and for his team-mates. Moreno also seemed to react in horror though the Mexican appeared fortunate that the referee, Nicola Rizzoli, did not show him a red card or award a penalty.

The danger was that following such an incident United might have lost the high rhythm they had begun the contest exhibiting. Yet this was not the case.

After Bastian Schweinsteiger won a free-kick down the right Juan Mata, operating in the No 10 berth he covets, swung the ball into Martial and though his glancing header was wide here was a reminder to PSV.

Next came Depay’s goal. Daley Blind began the move by threading a clever pass into his fellow Dutchman, who still had work to do. First Santiago Arias was removed with ease, then Depay paused a fraction to make Jeffrey Bruma hesitate. The next touch put Depay beyond the No 5 and the finish gave Zoet no chance.

Moments later Depay came close to doubling United’s advantage but his shot was just wide. The visitors’ dominance was underlined when Chris Smalling burst into the PSV area and drew a desperate save from Zoet.

Then PSV equalised. It came after 47 minutes of a half elongated due to Shaw’s injury. Maxime Lestienne pinged over a corner and Moreno beat Matteo Darmian to the header and the ball flicked off Blind to leave David De Gea no chance.

As the second half began Shaw at least felt well enough to tweet. “Thank you everyone for your messages, words can’t describe how gutted I am, my road to recovery starts now, I will come back stronger,” he said, having been taken to hospital.

On the pitch PSV were enjoying more of the play in a contest that pin-balled between each side’s area. The Dutch champions’ second came when Darmian spooned the ball to Andrés Guardado. The midfielder fed Lestienne down the left and United were about to suffer a sucker-punch as his dipping cross cleared Marcos Rojo, who had replaced Shaw, and Luciano Narsingh headed past De Gea.

United shrugged off this blow and continued to probe. Schweinsteiger sand-wedged a pass into Mata as he closed in on Zoet’s goal but the Spaniard’s touch went awol and the ball slipped under his boot and away to safety.

This summed up an evening United will wish to forget soon.

(Guardian service)

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