Manchester United were beaten 1-0 by Real Sociedad in the opening UEFA Europa League match at Old Trafford on Thursday. Brais Mendez scored a penalty, which should never have been, which was enough for the Spanish side to take all three points.
United started well in the early stages of the match with Tyrell Malacia having a shop blocked in the second minute of the match. Antony was then fouled in the sixth minute with United winning a free-kick, which came to nothing, sadly.
It was a strange occasion at Old Trafford on the evening that it was announced that Queen Elizabeth II has passed away earlier on Thursday afternoon. United had most of the ball in the early stages of the match but no chances had been created,
Fred gave away a free-kick in the 12th minute with produced the best chance of the match so far, in favour of the Spanish side. It was not enough to change the scoreline though. United then started to ask questions of their opposition.
Fred had a shot blocked in the 23rd minute of the match after Anthony Elanga did all of the work. United then had a couple of corners, taken by Christian Eriksen – but nothing came of them. Antony had a shot on goal in the 26th minute, which should have garnered something.
Fred saw another shot blocked on the half hour mark, again with Elanga providing the ball to him. He seems to have played well this evening. Ronaldo opened the scoring in the 36th minute of the match but he was flagged for offside, which was a shame.
Malacia did well in defence in the 39th minute of the match, blocking a shot and doing well at the time. United got a free-kick a few minutes later, which Antony took but once again, it came to nothing for United. Ten Hag’s side needed to work harder to get something.
Harry Maguire was penalised for a foul on David Silva in the dying minutes of the first half with the Spanish side awarded a free-kick, which Silva took but he was unable to break the deadlock. The referee blew the whistle for half time with the scoreline 0-0.
At the start of the second half, Ten Hag made a double substitution with Lisandro Martinez and Bruno Fernandes replacing Diogo Dalot and Christian Eriksen. Real Sociedad also made a change with Alexander Sørloth replacing Sadiq Umar.
Ronaldo missed the target in the very first minute of the second half, which was something that need not happen too often. The Portuguese forward will need to find his first goal of the season somewhere soon. It cannot go on like this.
Ronaldo was then penalised for a foul and minutes later, flagged for offside once again. In the 56th minute, Martinez blocked a shot, which seemed to deflect from his leg to his elbow. The referee gave a penalty. VAR checked it and awarded the penalty. What a farce that was.
Martinez was booked before the penalty was taken which was converted in the 59th minute putting the Spanish team 1-0 up with Brais Mendez scoring the goal. United needed to react, not that the officiating was helping. It was questionable at times.
Silva was booked on the hour for a challenge. David De Gea then made a save in the 64th minute of the match. United then won a corner, which Fernandes took and Casemiro ended up missing the target, which was a shame. Mohamed Ali Cho replaced Silva in the 65th minute.
Malacia missed the target in the 68th minute as United looked to turn the screws but nothing was going in their favour. Aihen Munoz was booked in the 70th minute. Ten Hag brought on both Alejandro Garnacho and Jadon Sancho for Elanga and Antony a minute later.
United needed to get something from this match of face another defeat – the first in the UEFA Europa League this season. Whilst there were some chances, nothing was going United’s way. It seemed that the officiating did not get much better either.
Fred was booked in the 83rd minute just before Charlie McNeill replaced Malacia with United seeking to attack more. Sadly, it was not meant to be for United, who tried to break through the Spanish side’s defence but could not get that elusive equaliser.
David De Gea: Unfortunate to have conceded the penalty but he made a dive in the right direction. The penalty should not have been given and I am surprised that VAR even gave it. He had little else to do in the match with neither team pushing the boat out. ★★★★★★
Diogo Dalot: He left some space in his area at times but the Spanish time never really exploited that. He made way for Martinez at the start of the second half with a view to him featuring on Sunday for United, providing that match goes ahead. ★★★★★★
Harry Maguire: The captain was robust on a sombre occasion for United and challenged well, never really stepping a foot wrong. It was a better match for him that his last start against Brentford but he will be unhappy that United lost again. ★★★★★★
Victor Lindelof: His game was quite stead at times but he was not really all that comfortable when he was switched to right-back. He was targeted, not that anything bad happened other than the penalty that never should have been. ★★★★★
Tyrell Malacia: The Dutchman showed his energetic approach through his appearance but in terms of impact, that was lacking in this match. Elanga, who played ahead of him put in a lot of effort. Malacia was replaced by McNeill late in the match. ★★★★★★
Fred: Played in a more advanced role in the first half, which was not a great move for him. He struggled a lot of the time. He moved back into a deeper role in the second half but still did not find his feet all that well. He needs to be doing so much better. ★★★
Casemiro: Finally he made his full debut. It was somewhat cumbersome though. McTominay could well keep his place with him in this form but not wanting to be reactionary, I will give him the time to settle in and find his feet. He’s a brilliant defensive midfielder in form. ★★★★★
Christian Eriksen: It seemed strange to have him off at half time but probably with a view of him playing some art on Sunday, providing the match goes ahead. He was the best United player in the first half of the match and did try to inflict some damage on the Spanish side. ★★★★★★★★
Antony: Got an effort on target against Real Sociedad and captivated the eye at times but he did not make the same impact he did against Arsenal on Sunday. I am sure he will be seeking to do better, whenever United’s next match is. ★★★★★
Cristiano Ronaldo: Had the ball in the back of the next but was flagged offside – which became a regular occurrence during the match. Did not seem to be at the best of his ability but at times he looked like he was wincing. He will not be happy with that performance. ★★★★★
Anthony Elanga: He put in a lot of energy in this match and should be commended for that. He is still a player that needs to break through that glass ceiling to reach his potential – and he still has the time to do that. I attack, he needs to provide more than just energy. ★★★★★
Lisandro Martinez: Replaced Dalot 46′. Came on and gave away a penalty, which should never have been one. Booked for it too. Bailed out Lindelof too. This guy is one of those players that puts himself on the pitch and gives everything he has got. ★★★★★★★
Bruno Fernandes: Replaced Eriksen 46′. Created a great chance for Ronaldo almost immediately as he came on but his compatriot wasted the opportunity. He will be frustrated with the result and will be seeking to do better, whenever it is that United play again. ★★★★★★
Jadon Sancho: Replaced Antony 71′. Had little impact on the pitch. He needs to be doing so much better than that, which is a shame. With Antony having a good impact on Sunday against Arsenal and Rashford playing well, he could be benched. ★★★★★
Alejandro Garnacho: Replaced Elanga 71′. He did a lot of running when given his chance in the Europa League and tried to threaten with his pace. It would have been great if it had paid off but it was not his fault. He’s got a great future ahead of him. ★★★★★
Charlie McNeill: Replaced Malacia 83′. Made his debut seven minutes from time. Did not really get a grasp of the match but will be thankful for the opportunity that he was given. There will be a lot of time for him to transition from a youth player into a first team player. ★★★★★
Goals: Brais Mendez 59′ penalty
Manchester United: De Gea; Dalot (Martinez 46′), Maguire, Lindelof, Malacia (McNeill 83′); Fred, Casemiro, Eriksen (Fernandes 46′); Antony (Sancho 71′), Ronaldo, Elanga (Garnacho 71′)
Substitutes Not Used: Heaton, Dubravka; Varane, Wan-Bissaka, Fredricson; McTominay, Iqbal
Bookings: Lisandro Martinez 57′, Fred 83′, David De Gea 90+4′; David Silva 60′, Aihen Munoz 70′, Benat Turrientes 89′
Written by John Walker