Manchester United’s difficult evening in Rotterdam was almost made worse as Chris Smalling nearly missed the flight home after struggling to produce a sample at doping control.
Jose Mourinho’s side suffered a 1-0 defeat in Thursday’s Europa League opener against Feyenoord, with Tonny Vilhena striking a late winner at De Kuip.
As if a second successive defeat for United was not enough, the result was nearly compounded by Smalling missing the team flight back to Manchester.
The stand-in captain was selected along with midfielder Ander Herrera for routine testing by anti-doping officers.
However, having spoken to MUTV, the defender struggled to produce a sample – common due to post-match dehydration – and was close to falling foul of United’s tight schedule.
Smalling’s car was eventually rushed to the airport with a police escort, just making it in time to return with the rest of the squad on Thursday evening.
— RE_Klipsteen (@RE_Klipsteen) September 15, 2016
The officer that helped pave the way for the defender posted a photo on Twitter (@RE_Klipsteen) of his bike next to the plane, saying: “End of service. 1 player of MU in the nick (of time) put on the plane. Could not urinate at the doping control.”
United return to action on Sunday lunchtime at Watford looking to avoid a third successive defeat in all competitions.