Manchester United beat Real Betis 4-1 at Old Trafford in the UEFA Europa League. Marcus Rashford struck in the sixth minute of the match but Ayoze Perez found an equaliser in the 32nd minute. United found the lead again through Antony in the 52nd minute before Bruno Fernandes headed his effort in six minutes later. An emotional goal for Wout Weghorst in the 84th minute sealed the win. United take a three goal lead to Spain.
United started well against Betis. Wout Weghorst had the ball in the back of the net in the fifth minute after Fred played the ball into him. However, the flag was raised after the Brazilian midfielder was in an offside position when he received the ball. A minute later United took the lead. Marcus Rashford score his 26th goal of the season. Bruno Fernandes on the right crossed the ball into the box. A Betis defender got to it but Rashford then picked it up and buried his shot.
In the ninth minute, Casemiro played in inviting pass into the box with Weghorst waiting in the area. The Dutchman launched himself at the delivery trying to head the ball into the back of the net but Claudio Bravo held onto the ball to deny Weghorst from his second United goal this season. United were pressing on the right side, giving Betis some problems and it was getting tough for them to cope in the early stages of the first half. United were doing well.
In the 17th minute, Weghorst had another chance on goal after Rashford picked out the run off Luke Shaw with him delivering the ball into the near post. Weghorst then tried to side-foot the ball in-between Bravo and the post to get the second goal of the match but it flew wide of the target. A minute later, Bravo raced off his line to deny Rashford from scoring a second goal in the match. United were really trying to hit back from that devastating defeat to Liverpool.
United’s high energy was stopping Betis from getting any time on the ball so far. Weghorst had another shot on goal in the 27th minute after Antony whipped a dangerous ball into the box. The Dutchman sent his half-volley over the crossbar. Casemiro then missed the target after Raphael Varane headed the ball into his path. Betis were level in the 32nd minute as Ayoze Perez scored the equaliser with an assist from Juanmi. VAR looked for a handball but awarded the goal.
The tempo of the game started to slow after the equaliser with Betis now back in it and aiming to get something from United. In the 43rd minute, Antony had a shot on goal, which was a positive chance but Abner Vinicius made a vital intervention by sticking out his leg to block the shot from troubling Bravo. A minute was added at the end of the half but before the whistle, Vinicius had a shot on goal with Fred blocking it. It was 1-1 at the break with all to play for.
At the start of the second half Erik ten Hag made his first substitution with Aaron Wan-Bissaka replacing Diogo Dalot in the right-back position. In the 52nd minute, United restored their lead with Antony scoring his seventh goal of the season. Fernandes played the cross into the 23-year-old who then finished in the top far corner of the net to put United 2-1 up on the night. It was a brilliant finish from the Brazilian winger, who has been getting a lot of criticism on social media.
Weghorst was booked on the 56th minute after a foul, seemingly talking himself into a booking. A minute later, United were 3-1 up after a Luke Shaw corner found its way into Fernandes who was in the box waiting to receive the ball, heading it into the back of the net. United seemed unstoppable so far in this match. It was Fernandes’ eighth goal of the season and Shaw’s sixth assist of the season. Ten Hag will be much happier with what he has seen tonight.
On the hour, Betis made a double substitution with Sergio Canales and Aitor Ruibal replacing Joaquin and Luiz Henrique. Both Wan-Bissaka and Antony had chances on goal in the 60th minute, both being blocked. In the 63rd minute, Antony had a chance to get another goal, this time missing the target completely. Ten Hag then made a double change in the 66th minute with Jadon Sancho and Tyrell Malacia replacing Rashford and Shaw. United adding to the pressure.
Betis also made a double change with Andrea Guardado and Borja Iglesias replacing Guido Rodriguez and Perez. Two minutes later, Betis had a problem with Bravo needing to rush towards the ball with Fernandes also running towards it. Bravo was left in a heap after a collision which resulted in Fernandes being booked for the challenge. Some say he was lucky not to get a red card. Casemiro and Antony both missed the target a few minutes after the card.
In the 76th minute, Weghorst had a shot on goal blocked. He was having a good game getting chances but could not make any of them count at this stage. Antony had another great chance to get a goal, launching his shot on goal with Bravo putting out a hand with the ball going out for a corner in the 70th minute. There were more changes with Willian Jose replaced Juanmi in the 81st minute with Scott McTominay and Facundo Pellistri replacing Fred and Antony in the 82nd.
It was an instant attack for United with Pellistri working well in the width, sending the ball into the box with McTominay getting a shot, it coming back off Bravo and Weghorst there to send the ball into the back of the net, scoring a fourth for United. What a finish from the hardworking Dutchman. United would take a three goal lead to Spain next week to aim for a place in the quarter final draw in the UEFA Europa League this season. Southampton next in the Premier League.
David De Gea: The Spanish goalkeeper made an improvement against Betis compared to his performance against Liverpool. He was not going to be at the top of his game though but it was a start on his journey to get back up there again. Betis were lively in the first half and hit the post when they could have scored. Conceded once with Ayoze Perez’s equaliser in the 32nd minute. He was not really troubled in the second half. ★★★★★
Diogo Dalot: I thought he played well in the first half but there were times that Aaron Wan-Bissaka could have a been a better option. He got forward at times and helped in both attack and defence. I feel he has regressed a little because of his injuries this season and Wan-Bissaka is just ahead of him. His night ended the end of the first half with Wan-Bissaka replacing him at the start of the second half – keeping hims rested for the weekend maybe? ★★★★★
Raphael Varane: He was the calmest of the two central defenders and did what he needed to do pretty silently as he always does. He played further up the pitch when United were under the cosh by Betis in the first half, before and after they scored the equaliser. His partnership with Lisandro Martinez this season had been largely positive and they will have more confidence as a duo after this result. They don’t call him Champions League Varane for nothing. ★★★★★★★
Lisandro Martinez: The Argentinian made a massive improvement from Sunday’s match and was more like the player that had been earning the plaudits earlier in the season. Jamie Carragher will probably disagree that he was a positive in this match because he needs to keep banging on the Sunday drum because that won’t happen again. Martinez is a great defender, who could have signed for Arsenal, back to his best once more. ★★★★★★★
Luke Shaw: He played a good game, tuning his back from Sunday’s result. He was helping on the left flank in attack for much of the game with United in command. Got his sixth assist of the season for Bruno Fernandes’ goal in the 58th minute of the match. Ten Hag will be pleased with his performance against Betis. His night was over soon after with him being replaced by Tyrell Malacia in the 66th minute of the match – rested for Sunday? ★★★★★★
Casemiro: The injury worries from Sunday seemed to disappear this week with him back in training days after the Anfield defeat. The Casemiro that had a pad performance on Sunday disappeared too. He was a player that would miss the second leg against Betis if he was booked this evening, but that did not happen. He opened up gaps in Betis’ defence with his passing and played a very good game from the start of the match. Cracking performance. ★★★★★★★
Fred: He redeemed himself a little after that poor performance against Liverpool. He was involved in the centre of the pitch and did not really put a foot wrong but would have been on the bench if United had the likes of Christian Eriksen and Marcel Sabitzer were available for this match. He does play better with Casemiro on the pitch though. That said, his evening came to an end in the 82nd minute with Scott McTominay brought on to add more energy. ★★★★★★
Antony: The Brazilian winger has been slated by those that know it all on social media – the prophets of excrement. They seem to know everything which is always based on one poor result. They need a scapegoat I guess. Antony did well against Betis and had plenty of shots on goal. He could have had a hat-trick but settled with one good finish which restored United’s lead. He was replaced by Facundo Pellistri in the 82nd minute of the match. ★★★★★★★
Wout Weghorst: The Dutchman worked hard against Betis and had many chances on goal again. Some say he’s a terrible footballer – Hairy Hands – but he can’t be that bad if he is getting on the end of chances on goal. It seemed like it was not going to be his night again but in the 84th minute, he got his Old Trafford goal – which was an emotional one for him. His work rate, discipline and the way he opens up spaces is great for United. ★★★★★★★
Bruno Fernandes: In the first half, he was largely ineffective. That is something that has happened at times this season. He was eager to get involved in things and will have been working hard to get into the game. In the second half, he came alive. Some will say he’s too cold and not enough hot but he’s a player. He got his eighth goal of the season and his tenth assist in this match, which was great to see. We just need this Bruno Fernandes a bit more this season. ★★★★★★★
Marcus Rashford: The England forward scored his 26th goal of the season, opening the scoring in the sixth minute of the match. It was a good finish for Rashford and he will be pleased to find the back of the net again. He seemed to fizzle off in the second half and was replaced by Jadon Sancho in the 66th minute, giving him a bit of a rest ahead of the clash to Southampton in the Premier League on Sunday. He will then be seeking to do it all again. ★★★★★★
Aaron Wan-Bissaka: Replaced Dalot 46′. Played well with Antony on the right, starting up a bit of a partnership again with the Brazilian. His proactiveness helped United push further up the pitch. It was great to see him thrive. ★★★★★★★
Jadon Sancho: Replaced Rashford 66′. The English winger was lively on the ball. I would like to see him snap into place and start banging the goals and assists in for United, but that is down to him. Good signs though. ★★★★★★
Tyrell Malacia: Replaced Shaw 66′. Came on to give Shaw a rest. Dis well in the left-back position. Will want to get on the pitch more and more this season. He did what he needed to do. ★★★★★★
Scott McTominay: Replaced Fred 82′. Brought some more energy onto the pitch. Had a shot on goal, which was saved but Weghorst banged the rebound to make it 4-1 for United. A positive performance for the Academy graduate. ★★★★★★★
Facundo Pellistri: Replaced Antony 82′. He was shining as he entered the pitch and seconds later, was advancing with trickery and skill on the wing, held up the ball in the box and found McTominay before Weghorst made it 4-1. ★★★★★★★
Goals: Marcus Rashford 6′, Antony 52′, Bruno Fernandes 58′, Wout Weghorst 82′; Ayoze Perez 32′
Assists: Bruno Fernandes 52′, Luke Shaw 58′; Juanmi 32′
Manchester United: De Gea; Dalot (Wan-Bissaka 46′), Varane, Martinez, Shaw (Malacia 66′); Casemiro, Fred (McTominay 82′); Antony (Pellistri 82′), Weghorst, Fernandes; Rashford (Sancho 66′)
Substitutes Not Used: Heaton, Butland; Lindelof, Maguire; Mainoo; Elanga, Garnacho
Bookings: Wout Weghorst 56′, Bruno Fernandes 68′
Written by John Walker