MANCHESTER: Memphis Depay inspired Manchester United to a 3-1 comeback victory over Club Brugge in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League play-off.
The summer signing from PSV Eindhoven struck two first-half goals, his first in United colours, and then crossed for substitute Marouane Fellaini’s added-time header as Louis van Gaal’s charges undid the damage of an early Michael Carrick own goal.
Brugge have never won in England yet their 3,700 noisy supporters had a goal to celebrate after eight minutes when Carrick stuck out a foot and diverted a Víctor Vázquez free-kick past Sergio Romero.
It was the first goal United have conceded this term, but Depay brought them level within five minutes.
Collecting a Carrick pass on his chest in the inside-left channel, he lifted the ball over the head of the young Brugge full-back Dion Cools and cut across the penalty box before driving low past Sébastien Bruzzese.
After Wayne Rooney had an acrobatic effort cleared off the line, the United captain sent Depay clear but the 21-year-old, with just Bruzzese to beat, opted to play in Adnan Januzaj; his cross was overhit.
Depay’s angles were right two minutes before half-time, however, when he received Juan Mata’s pass on the corner of the box, stepped inside and curled a brilliant effort around Bruzzese.
It was a bad end to the half for Brugge, who had arrived in England with a long injury list and suffered another blow when captain Timmy Simons limped off.
They later lost centre-back Mechele for the second leg after his dismissal for a second bookable offence and eventually conceded a third goal.
After Depay had shot over when teed up by Rooney’s cute flick, it looked like they would head home with a narrow defeat, but Fellaini, nodding in at the last, ensured otherwise.