Facundo Pellistri nets late equaliser as Man Utd earn draw with Athletic Bilbao
Facundo Pellistri ensured Manchester United avoided defeat in their final pre-season friendly as Harry Maguire atoned for his first-half error to help secure a 1-1 draw with Athletic Bilbao.
Maguire, whose mistake had allowed Nico Williams to open the scoring before the break, set up the Uruguay international to level in stoppage time in front of a sell-out crowd at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.
Maguire, who was replaced as United captain by Bruno Fernandes during a summer of speculation over his future, was included as one of 11 changes to the side which beat Lens 3-1 at Old Trafford on Saturday, but there was no place for injured £72million signing Rasmus Hojlund a day after he had been presented to the club’s fans.
Erik ten Hag’s men might have got off to the perfect start when Pellistri played Jadon Sancho in behind the Athletic defence with just four minutes gone, but his attempt was blocked by goalkeeper Unai Simon.
Goalkeeper Tom Heaton was called upon to claim Inaki Williams’ 15th-minute strike as the Spaniards responded and they though they had been awarded a 25th-minute penalty seconds after United had seen their appeals waved away at the other end.
Referee Neil Doyle initially pointed to the spot after Nico Williams had been brought down by Alvaro Fernandez, only for the official to change his mind and award a free-kick, with which Heaton dealt comfortably.
However, the LaLiga side took the lead with 29 minutes gone when Oihan Sancet capitalised on Maguire’s slip-up to feed Nico Williams, who fired past the advancing keeper.
Eighteen-year-old Dan Gore tested Simon as the second-half got under way with neither side taking a backward step.
But Bilbao’s hopes of retaining their advantage were dealt a blow with 24 minutes remaining when last man Aitor Paredes was given a straight red card for hauling back Hannibal Mejbri after conceding possession to the Tunisia midfielder.
Hannibal passed up a glorious opportunity to level when he volleyed the ball over from Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s cross, but redemption arrived deep into stoppage time when Maguire headed down another Wan-Bissaka delivery for Pellistri to steer home the equaliser.