Manchester United's European woes at Old Trafford this season continued with a 3-2 defeat to Athletic Bilbao in the first leg of their Europa League round-of-16 first-leg match, on Thursday.

Bilbao, the superior team throughout, looked like their night would be even better before United's Wayne Rooney converted a late penalty to reduce the arrears to just a one-goal deficit for the return leg in Bilbao next week.

The surprise defeat continues United's poor home European record this season, which has now seen them win just one of five matches. It was that poor form that led to United being in this, Europe's secondary, competition in the first place, after they crashed out of the Champions League.

It had appeared this night might be different, however, when Rooney gave United the lead after 22 minutes as he followed-up from Javier Hernandez's parried shot.

Bilbao did not panic, though, and they got the equalizer their play deserved just before half time. Spanish international striker Fernando Llorente powerfuly heading in Markel Susaeta's cross.

United goalkeeper David de Gea was then forced to make a string of excellent saves to keep the scores even. But Bilbao were no to be denied, finally grabbing the lead their control of the game warranted, in the 72nd minute. Oscar de Marcos volleying home after a stylish move.

Things got even better for Marcelo Bielsa's side when some poor United defending allowed Iker Munian to smash the ball into the roof of the net after De Gea had turned away De Marcos' shot.

What was looking like a desperate situation heading into the return leg became a little more palatable when Rooney converted a penalty two minutes into injury time following a handball.

The night, though, belonged to the Spanish side and they will fancy their chances of getting the job done back at home next week when United will have to score at least twice to have any chance of progressing.

Manchester United - Athletic Bilbao footyroom.com by footyroom