Sir Alex called for his team to wake up ahead of the tie, but Rafael was caught sleeping by Iker Muniain who scored what proved to be the winner for Marcelo Bielsa’s side.
United were second best for large spells of the game but took the lead when good play by Hernandez in the box allowed Rooney to tap in from close range. Athletic Bilbao were level just before the break though when Fernando Llorente escaped Phil Jones’ attention to head home.
There was an hint of offside about Athletic’s second goal as Bilbao strung together a succession of passes before De Marcos volleyed past David De Gea.
The Spaniard’s stock continues to rise as he made a numer of brilliant saves to keep United in the tie but there was little he could do about the third after Muniain escaped the attention of Rafael to knock the ball past a sprawling De Gea following a strangely awarded freekick.
Things were looking bleak for United but they were offered a glimmer of hope when De Marcos handled a Chicharito cross resulting in a penalty being awarded that Rooney dispatched.
United will need to win by two goals at the San Mames next week but with our current European form, things aren’t looking good.