Ratings: Alejandro Garnacho was the star for United; Lisandro Martinez helped them keep their cool in defence

A play off round beckons for United now; a lesson to be learned?

Manchester United beat Real Sociedad 1-0 with Alejandro Garnacho scoring his first senior goal for the club. It was not enough for Erik ten Hag’s team to win the group though and they will face a play off round clash in February. It should not have been this way.

Real Sociedad started the match in good form with Pablo Marín getting the first chance on goal, missing the target though. The Spanish side were the ones with something to defend in this match – topping the group already. But United need to win by two goals to take that away.

Carlos Fernández produced a second chance for his team against United, hitting the side netting. The flag was then raised for offside with David De Gea taking a free-kick for United. In the tenth minute, Cristiano Ronaldo was fouled by Robin Le Normand resulting in a free-kick.

United gained nothing from the free-kick and were, at the time, mopping up with possession seeking to find their strengths against the Spanish side. Alejandro Garnacho has a good chance to create in the 14th minute but his final ball in the box was not good enough, sending it out of play.

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United took the lead in the 17th minute of the match with Alejandro Garnacho scoring his first senior goal for United. Bruno Fernandes won the header, found Ronaldo who played the ball into the young Spanish-born Argentinian to put United ahead in this fixture. Time to get another goal!

noted were playing some good football in this half. Sociedad did not have many chances to find an equaliser. United need another goal to command the group, keeping the Spanish side at bak. Garnacho missed a second chance on goal in the 27th minute, which was a shame for him.

The home side had a chance in the 41st minute of the match, getting into the box to cause some problems but there were halted by the United defence with De Gea gathering the ball. Seconds later, Ronaldo was through on goal with the ball lofted over the top but he did not score it.

Sociedad then started to find life in their attacking, stealing the ball from Christian Eriksen and running through on goal. De Gea made a safe, the ball was deflected and the Spanish side tried to score, sending it out for a corner – that came to nothing. United still led 1-0 at the break.

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At the start of the second half there were no substitutions for either side. United were initially pushing to find that second goal but the home side were also starting to create chances. In the 58th minute, Marcus Rashford and Scott McTominay replaced van de Beek and Lindelof.

Lisandro Martinez was shown a yellow card for a foul in the 62nd minute of the match, which seemed a bit harsh from the replay. Brais Méndez was booked for a foul two minutes later. Both Ronaldo and Carlos Fernandez were booked in the 71st and 73rd minutes of the match.

The pace seems to have gone from the match with Sociedad happy to waste time and stop United from getting more chances on goal with them needing the elusive second goal. United just need to get that goal so they don’t have to play two more matches in February 2023.

That was easier said than done though. Sociedad seemed to be picking up the ball in some good forward areas but their finishing was not the best with United keeping their clean sheet at this stage with ten minutes of the match remaining. Ten Hag may need to add more pace on the pitch.

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Ten Hag made a double substitution in the 82nd minute of the match with Fred and Harry Maguire replacing Eriksen and Garnacho, The home side made a triple change too. Maguire was playing as a forward for United. There was just five minutes left to find that second goal.

Diogo Dalot was booked in the 88th minute of the match, which was a harsh booking in my opinion. Sociedad had a free-kick and more time to waste. What a terrible team they have been in this match. Unprofessional to say the least. United had a great chance just before the 90th minute.

Five minutes were added at the end of the match and United would need to find that second goal to win the group. It would have to be a late one. United created some chances but Sociedad were not to be broke down. That second goal was a problem to find and United need to overcome that.

Ten Hag’s side will now discover their fate in the play off round draw on Monday and two extra matches will be played this season, which did not have to be the case. United need some competent forwards in the team that they can trust to produce, otherwise this is going to continue.

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Player Ratings

David De Gea: It was a quiet start to the match for the Spaniard but at the end of the first half he had to make some important saves. Continued that form in the second half. Nothing was going to get past him. It was his 174th clean sheet of his career – a third in a row. ★★★★★★★

Diogo Dalot: This was his 25th consecutive start for United. He did what he needed to do for United in defence but did not attack as much as he has in recent matches. It was a positive performance for the club but the win will feel like a defeat. ★★★★★★★

Victor Lindelof: Recalled to the starting XI in place of Harry Maguire. He was calm and has been working well with Lisandro Martinez. He was replaced by Scott McTominay just before the hour. It was a good performance from him. ★★★★★★★

Lisandro Martinez: He was a combative force for United. The hunger, determination and desire to win is a good barometer for his teammates. He was dominant aerially, which is funny with him being ‘too short’. A class player for United to have. ★★★★★★★★

Luke Shaw: He supplemented United’s attacks with his overlapping. This changed when the formation changed and perhaps it stopped United from finding that much-needed second goal. Shaw is a top player finding that top form again – at the right time. ★★★★★★★

Casemiro: He was more defensive-minded than he has been in the previous matches. He found the right places at the right time against he team he has played against so many times. What a player United have signed. Dependable and he wants to win. ★★★★★★★

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Christian Eriksen: He kept possession well for United but did not have a big impact in the match. He was not suited in that formation that was switched too late in the match. That did not work for United. e was replaced by Fred late in the match. ★★★★★★

Bruno Fernandes: He played his part in the creation of the goal for Alejandro Garnacho, winning the header and playing the ball to Cristiano Ronaldo, who provided the assist. I don’t think the right position suited him. He will get a rest this weekend being suspended. ★★★★★★

Donny van de Beek: It was good to see him back in the team but in terms of chemistry with his teammates – there was none. I would expect to see him leave the club in January, if this does not get better. The bench seems the most likely place for him now. ★★★

Alejandro Garnacho: Scored his first senior goal for the club on his second senior start. What a finish it was. He was lively throughout too, which was a great sign. It was a big occasion for him. He was replaced by Harry Maguire late in the match. ★★★★★★★

Cristiano Ronaldo: Got the assist for Alejandro Garnacho and should have perhaps scored himself, but he tried to chip the keeper and it did not pay off for him. He was clearly frustrated in the second half. United need a better attacking force this season. ★★★★★

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Substitutes

Marcus Rashford: Replaced van de Beek 58′. Came on carrying a muscle injury and did not seem suited to the match. He was wasteful in possession and with his chances. He will need to be fully fit and back in form this weekend. Hopefully United have more players back. ★★★★★

Scott McTominay: Replaced Lindelof 58′. I don’t think he made an impact in the match, which was a big worry considering he had 30 minutes or so on the pitch. It is clear that United need reinforcement and soon. He’s a decent player though and can perform well. ★★★★★

Fred: Replaced Eriksen 82′. He came on late and offered little to nothing that would have brought that second goal. He is a decent player and can work well for United, but that did not happen in this match. In terms of quality, United need more from the bench. ★★★★★

Harry Maguire: Replaced Garnacho 82′. Played up front when he came on, which was strange and did not work well for United. Set pieces would have been good with him in the box but it was not meant to be for United.Now they have two more matches this season. ★★★★★

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Match Information

Goals: Alejandro Garnacho 17′

Assists: Cristiano Ronaldo 17′

Manchester United: De Gea; Dalot, Lindelof (McTominay 58′), Martinez, Shaw; Casemiro, Eriksen (Fred 82′); Fernandes; van de Beek (Rashford 58′), Garnacho (Maguire 82′); Ronaldo

Substitutes Not Used: Dubravka, Vitek; Malacia, Wan-Bissaka; Pellistri, Iqbal; Elanga, Shoretire

Bookings: Brais Méndez 64′, Carlos Fernandez 73′; Lisandro Martinez 62′, Cristiano Ronaldo 71′, Diogo Dalot 88′

Written by John Walker

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About John Walker 1822 Articles
I support Manchester United, the greatest English football team to have ever existed. Bruno Fernandes is the latest in a long line of players with great ability to play for the club. I idolised Bryan Robson, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, and Eric Cantona growing up.