Manchester United took a big step towards the last eight of the Europa League, goals from Marcus Rashford, Antony, Bruno Fernandes and Wout Weghorst giving them a 4-1 win over Real Betis before next week’s second leg in Spain.
After the weekend horror of a 7-0 defeat at Anfield, they’ll be well pleased with their midweek endeavours.
Eager to put their Anfield capitulation behind them, United started well, and quickly went in front, Marcus Rashford leathering a tremendous rising finish high into the net after skipping around a grounded defender. But they were unable to force a second and Betis gradually eased themselves into the game, scoring a lovely equaliser through Ayoze Perez, on loan from Leicester.
After the break, though, United stomped onto the gas, Antony scoring his goal with an glorious finish on 52 minutes, then on 58, Bruno Fernandes met Luke Shaw’s corner with a thunderous header, taking United to the cusp of the quarter-finals.
Wout Weghorst’s finish from close range on 83 minutes for United’s fourth, may well have put the tie beyond Betis.
TALKING POINT – Wan-Bissaka proving his worth
Dalot started the season well enough without ever looking like he might get as good as he’ll have to if he’s to retain the shirt past the summer. But when Wan-Bissaka returned from injury after the World Cup, he immediately played well, and is still doing so 10 weeks later.
Though he still lacks finesse on the ball, he carries it well, and Ten Hag’s insistence on him playing high and wide or moving into midfield, allows him to fully utilise that attribute. And, though he is still prone to losing men at the back post, he is a better defender than Dalot, especially one-on-one. The time has come for him to be given a run of starts.
MAN OF THE MATCH – Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United)
Playing in the middle, he was involved in so much of United’s good play, assisting one goal and scoring one himself. A top player and competitor.
Manchester United: De Gea 5, Dalot 6, Varane 6, Martinez 6, Shaw 6, Casemiro 7, Fred 6, Fernandes 8, Antony 8, Weghorst 6, Rashford 7. Subs: Wan-Bissaka 7, Malacia 6, Sancho 6, Pellistri 7, McTominay 6.
Real Betis: Bravo 7, Sabaly 5, Pezzella 6, Felipe 6, Abner 5, Henrique 5, Carvalho 6, Rodriguez 5, Joaquin 6, Juanmi 6, Perez 7. Subs: Ruibal 6, Canales 6, Guadrado 6, Iglesias 6, Da Silva 6.
32’ – WHAT A GOAL! Manchester United 1-1 Real Betis (Perez) The Leicester man does it! Casemiro loses possession, Betis switch it out left, Juanmi chests down – there’s an arm in there but the ref says it’s fine, I’m unsure why – and switches back to the right side of the box, where Perez takes it down to send a gorgeous finish inside the far post with the outside of his right boot! Game on!
44’ – WHAAAAAT!
De Gea passes straight to Juanmi, who immediately finds Perez and he’s going to score again! Bruno gets a touch on the shot, the ball loops goalwards … and hits the inside of the post. Had Henrique not been celebrating, arms aloft, he might’ve been able to put that in! What a let-off for United!
52’ – WHAT A GOAL! Manchester United 2-1 Real Betis (Antony) United have started the half well and Shaw breaks forward but is stopped by what looks like a foul. The ref says no, Casemiro picks up the loose ball and finds Bruno who chops superbly then finds Antony. Abner surely knows what’s coming, but he shows his man inside and shonuff he performs his finish, this time floating his curler inside that near post, two-thirds of the way up. He gets stick for trying this all the time, but he’s so good at it, and when he gets it right, it’s unsaveable.
58’ – GOAL! Manchester United 3-1 Real Betis (Fernandes) Shaw swings the corner out as Varana yanks back Henrique and Big Bruno Fernandes races around the outside, punishing a superb header that Bravo gets two hands to but can only help in. Can United finish the tie from here?
82’ – GOAL! Manchester United 4-1 Real Betis (Weghorst) The corner goes straight from Bruno to Pellistri, who does brilliantly to skip around the outside of Abner, showing great feet, speed and confidence. Then he pulls back to McTominay, whose shot from close range is saved by Bravo, leaving an open net that even Weghorst can’t miss. He slams home on the fall, and enjoys the moment as you would, on the verge of tears overcome with relief and ecstasy. This tie is over!
Man United have scored two or more goals in 15 consecutive home matches for the fourth time in their history, and for the first time since March-October 2000.
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