PSV vs Manchester United report: Misery for United as PSV fight back after horror Luke Shaw injury in Champions League opener

PSV 2 Manchester United 1

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The Independent Football

Manchester United lost a match but they lost something far more precious. Luke Shaw, their left-back, was taken to hospital with what was confirmed later as a double fracture of his right leg sustained when he was tackled inside the area by PSV Eindhoven’s centre-half, Hector Moreno. As Shaw writhed in the pitch in agony the referee, Nicola Rizzoli, awarded a corner. The injury looked dreadful with fears it may threaten not just Shaw’s season but his career.

The game was stopped for nine minutes while the 20-year-old was treated on the pitch before being taken off on a stretcher to hospital. Gary Lineker wrote on Twitter: “Pictures of the Luke Shaw injury look horrific. Hope I am wrong but I fear the worst.”

Shaw himself also went on social media to express his dismay. “Words can’t express how gutted I am,” he said. “The road to recovery starts now.”

That United, on their return to the Champions League, should have squandered a lead and returned home pointless might not appear to have mattered when the final whistle went but it soon will.

The Dutch champions, pushed back relentlessly during the first half, scored with the two concrete chances they created. The roar that engulfed the Philips Stadion at the end was deafening but there would have been a deep silence in the away dressing room – and for many reasons.

Fifteen Septembers ago, Manchester United came to Eindhoven, gambled by fielding a weakened side and lost heavily. These were in what Roy Keane came to call the “Rolex Years” when United had won the European Cup and, in the iron view of their captain, were dominating the Premier League with casual ease while not particularly extending themselves in Europe.

Bulova now supply Manchester United with their watches and they are no longer a club that dominates anything. Louis van Gaal, the United manager, returning to the stadium where he endured repeated failures with Ajax and Barcelona, fielded his strongest side.

Luke Shaw clashes with Hector Moreno

Luke Shaw reacts in agony after the incident

Shaw is treated by United medics before being taken off on a stretcher

It was to have included Marouane Fellaini from the start but the big Belgian, who had proved a very makeshift striker against Liverpool on Saturday, felt unwell and was replaced by Anthony Martial. Van Gaal’s team-sheet may have looked exciting and aggressive but, to an extent, his hand had been forced.

In September 2000, it was not entirely a surprise that PSV would have beaten United. The gap between the Premier League and the Eredivisie was not then unbridgeable. The Netherlands leading newspaper, De Telegraaf, published a list of statistics comparing the two clubs, among which was that United’s squad is worth four times that of Eindhoven’s and that PSV’s highest paid player, Luuk de Jong, earned eight times less than Wayne Rooney. The money from Philips that once brought Ronaldo from Brazil to this modern if rather featureless city in the heart of the Netherlands is no longer enough.

It is not surprising that Memphis Depay exchanged the Philips Stadion for Old Trafford but that Georginio Wijnaldum – who was guest of honour for this match – thought the Dutch champions less of a bet than the non-entities of Newcastle who now sit bottom of the Premier League is more difficult to fathom when PSV not only competed with United but went 2-1 up.

Memphis Depay puts Manchester United ahead

When the teams were read out, there were whistles for Daley Blind (because he once played for Ajax), for Bastian Schweinsteiger (because he is German) and for Van Gaal (because he is Van Gaal). There were banners expressing love for Memphis Depay and a standing ovation for Shaw when he was wheeled off holding an oxygen mask to his face after what must have been nine excruciating minutes on the turf.

There, he was treated by what looked like every available medical man in the stadium. He had been running directly at the Eindhoven defence – something United were to do repeatedly – when Moreno brought him down inside the penalty area. His right leg took the ball but it was the Mexican’s trailing leg that inflicted the damage. Moreno knew immediately that it was serious, throwing his hands to his mouth. He looked aghast.

After Shaw was taken to hospital, the game continued amid the kind of flatness that sportsmen feel when someone is seriously hurt.

It was Depay who brought it to some kind of life. They would have been familiar with the sight of him scoring but few of the 28 goals he put away to help PSV to the Dutch championship would have been as good as this.

The ball was played in by Blind and Depay glided it between the right-back Santiago Arias  and Jeffrey Bruma before driving it into the corner of Jeroen Zoet’s net. A few minutes later, he nearly did the same again. Depay may have found the Premier League a slightly unsettling arena but, as he proved in the qualifier against Bruges, he is utterly at home in the Champions League.

Before Eindhoven drew level, United almost put the night beyond reach as Chris Smalling, captaining the club in the absence of Rooney and Michael Carrick, took the ball from Maxime Lestienne and kept on running, only for his shot slapped into the palm of Zoet’s gloves.

And then to everyone’s surprise, PSV were level as Moreno’s header met Lestienne’s corner, deflected off Blind’s forehead and went past Ashley Young on the line. Moreno’s face that had earlier been contorted by the agony of what he had done, was now creased by a smile.

Their second just before the hour was by contrast a clinical counter-attack. It began with a fabulous pass from Andrés Guardado that set Lestienne free on the left. The cross, hard and chest-high was met perfectly by Luciano Narsingh, who was marked by Marcos Rojo, patrolling where the stricken Shaw should have been.