Fast start

This was as fast a start as Manchester United have produced all season, with the exception of the dismantling of League One Tranmere Rovers, even if they had to wait until just before the half hour mark to turn that dominance into a lead.

It was all the more surprising for the fact that blistering starts haven't really been a strategy for United this season. They've tended to ease their way into games rather than roar out of the blocks.

Before this game only six of United's 67 goals this season had come in the first 15 minutes of games. Two of those were against Tranmere and two of the three in the Premier League had come in the first five games of the season.

But Club Brugge were clinging on in the opening exchanges at Old Trafford and it was more by luck than judgement that they found themselves still level after a quarter of an hour.

Three times Simon Mignolet denied United, while there were also three corners in those first 15 minutes. It might not have paid dividends this time, but too often this season United have started games slowly and found themselves on the back foot, searching for solutions. If this is the beginning of a new approach then it could have significant benefits between now and the end of the season.

A feel good moment

There's been plenty of despondency around United this season, but the sun is threatening to come out over this season and the mood has been improved ever since the arrival of Odion Ighalo.

The loan signing of a 30-year-old striker from China in a deadline day move was considered desperate by many, and there remains an element of that to it of course, yet Ighalo's passion for United has already made him a cult hero here and it was one of the moments of the season when he tapped in for his first United goal against Brugge.

This was an excellent debut for Ighalo, who could easily have had a hat-trick, and the Stretford End have taken him to their hearts. It began with "if Ighalo scores, we're on the pitch", before a rendition of "Viva Ighalo" after his goal. Then came "if he scores again, we're on the pitch".

Clean sheets

The closest United came to conceding against Club Brugge was probably through two incidents of their own making, when Harry Maguire's slip nearly let David Okereke in early on and when Sergio Romero had to react quickly to letting a difficult back pass creep close to his line.

Beyond that this was another routine night for United's defence and a sixth clean sheet in seven games in all competitions. All successful sides are built on solid foundations so the newly discovered defensive resolve will please Ole Gunnar Solskjaer no end.

Suddenly he has options at the back as well, in the rejuvenated Eric Bailly, who looks determined to make up for lost time, and in Luke Shaw, who continued his revival with another excellent performance.

Missing Martial

Alarm bells began ringing among United fans when the team news landed an hour and 15 minutes before kick-off at Old Trafford, when Anthony Martial was absent entirely from the matchday squad.

The idea that he was being rested, initially floated by United's own app, seemed unlikely, given this tie was precariously balanced, and it was confirmed when Solskjaer reported he'd limped out of training on Wednesday with a muscle injury.

Odion Ighalo pays tribute to his sister after scoring his first United goal

This was just the third time this season that United have named a matchday 18 without either Martial or Marcus Rashford in, which is impressive given both have had injury issues. The previous two had ended in a 1-1 draw with Rochdale and a 2-1 defeat to Astana in Kazakhstan.

There were no such issues here, in part thanks to United's blistering start, but Solskjaer will be desperate not to be without the in-form Martial for too long.

Europa League record

The Europa League is obviously not the continental competition United of dream being in, but their record in it recently suggests they are too good for Europe's second tier. Now they have to prove it.

United have now lost just one of their last 19 games in the Europa League and so far they've made pretty easy work of this year's competition.

In 2017 that record was enough to take them all the way, when they saved their best performance for the final. Now winning the Europa League comes with the added bonus of qualification for the Champions League, should it be needed.

Tougher tests lie ahead than Club Brugge, but United are beginning to look a threat in this competition and nobody will fancy drawing them in the last-16 today.