Sloppy Manchester United settles for draw vs Anderlecht in first leg of Europe League QF
Henrikh Mkhitaryan finds an open goal to score for Man United. AP

MANCHESTER United stayed on course to complete its full set of European trophies by drawing at Anderlecht 1-1 in their first-leg game of the Europa League quarterfinals on Thursday (Friday, Manila time).

Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored in the first half and the Belgian side levelled in the 86th to add intrigue to the return match at Old Trafford next Thursday.

United coach Jose Mourino was unhappy his team lapsed into a season-long failing — drawing games it should have won.

"If I were one of my defenders I would be very disappointed because they had serious work and the people who had to kill the game didn't," Mourinho said.

Still, United will be favored to advance at Old Trafford next week after controlling much of the game in Brussels.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic linked in a sweeping move to give United the lead. His pass to the right wing found Antonio Valencia for a cross that was met by Marcus Rashford's volleyed shot. Anderlecht goalkeeper Martinez Rubin dived right to push the ball spinning away toward the byline and, from a tight angle, Mkhitaryan hit a rising shot into the net.

Mkhitaryan has scored in four straight away games in the Europa League, which shapes as United's best route back to the Champions League if it can reach and win the final in Stockholm on May 24.

Anderlecht made the second leg trickier in the 86th. Leander Dendoncker ran clear of two United defenders to power a header from near the penalty spot past goalkeeper Sergio Romero.

Meanwhile, in other matches:


Ajax, the 1992 champion, could have taken a more decisive lead to Germany next week.

Davy Klaassen's 23rd-minute penalty and shot in the 52nd from Justin Kluivert's cross were a poor reward for their dominance at Amsterdam Arena.

Ajax brought 10 saves from Schalke 'keeper Ralf Faehrmann and twice were denied by the goal frame.


Seeking to keep the trophy in Spain for a fourth straight year, and sixth time since 2010, Celta Vigo found a resilient opponent in Belgium champion Genk.

After trailing inside 10 minutes to a Jean-Paul Boetius goal, Celta seized the lead eight minutes later and was 3-1 up at halftime. Pione Sisto, Iago Aspas and John Guidetti got the goals.

But Genk got a valuable second away goal in the 67th from substitute Thomas Buffel.

Genk, playing its 17th game in the competition it began in the second qualifying round in July, is unbeaten at home so far.


Follow the writer on Twitter: @spinph