Manchester United beat Real Sociedad 4-0 in the UEFA Europa League round of 32 first leg at the Juventus Stadium in Turin ons Thursday evening. United opened the scoring through Bruno Fernandes in the 27th minute of the match with the Portuguese midfielder scoring his second goal of the match in the 57th minute. Marcus Rashford scored United’s third goal in the 65th minute of the match with Daniel James finding the back of the net minutes later, but he was offside. The Welshman did get another chance, getting the fourth goal of the match in the 90th minute to complete the scoring for United, giving Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side a great chance to make it to the round of 16 stage of the competition.
This was a match where both teams started well with Adnan Januzaj having a shot on goal which just missed the target in the opening few minutes with Marcus Rashford also having a chance before the Spanish side registered their second shot of the match. At that stage, United started to get the Lion’s share of possession. Eric Bailly did not have the best of starts for United, after sitting out the last few matches, which obviously left him a bit rusty. Scott McTominay had a good shot on goal around the 15 minute mark of the march, which was blocked by the goalkeeper. Rashford had another shot on goal in the 18th minute of the match, which was kept in play resulting in Bruno Fernandes having a chance too, which was cleared off the line.
United took the lead in the 27th minute of the match after Rashford lofted the ball into the area which saw goalkeeper Alejandro Remiro, Igor Zubeldia and Robin Le Normand collide in the box with the ball then falling to Fernandes after touching one of the trio. The Portuguese midfielder then scored his 20th goal of the season, which was also his 32nd goal for the club since signing in January 2020. In total, Fernandes has contributed 52 goals, assisting 20 times since arriving in Manchester. What a great signing he has become. United had a few more chances, which never came to anything. It was becoming another good match for United but they will need to score a second goal, otherwise the second half could become fraught.
United doubled their lead in the 57th minute of the match with Fernandes scoring his second goal of the match, his 21st of the season. Rashford played the ball into the box with Fernandes and Daniel James waiting. Fernandes then sent the ball into the back of the net. The linesman raised the flag for offside but VAR gave the goal. Rashford then scored his 17th goal fo the season in the 65th minute after he made a perfectly timed run after Fred launched the ball from United’s half of the pitch. It was a good finish for Rashford, who was not on the ball with his chances in the first half of the match. United did score another goal through James, who finished superbly but he was offside, which was a shame. United have killed the match off, which is a good sign.
United were playing well in the second half of the match and managed to get some rest for Scott McTominay, who was replaced by Nemanja Matic in the 60th minute of the match, Marcus Rashford, who was replaced by Anthony Martial in the 65th minute of the match, Fernandes, who was replaced by Juan Mata in the 83rd minute of the match and Mason Greenwood, who was replaced by Amad Diallo in the 83rd minute of the match. United managed to scored a fourth goal in the match with Daniel James getting on the scoresheet following his offside earlier in the half. The Welshman darted down the right flank, having no passing options so decided to go straight for goal from the tightest of angles, nutmegging the goalkeeper who has denied United a few times.
United will have at least one foot inn the door to the round of 16 stage of the competition after the 4-0 victory. It showed signs of their victory over LASK in March last season which saw United 5-0 up in the first leg only to see the coronavirus pandemic stop the season for around three months with the Europa League being played out in August. Solskjaer will not have his focus on Newcastle United coming to Old Trafford on Sunday with the club ten points adrift of Manchester City in the Premier League. It was good to see Diallo come on and with the scoreline what it was, perhaps he can start in the second leg at Old Trafford where he could get himself on the scoresheet?
Goals: Bruno Fernandes 27′, 57′, Marcus Rashford 65′, Daniel James 90′
Assists: Daniel James 57′, Fred 65′, Eric Bailly 90′
Manchester United: Henderson; Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Maguire, Telles; McTominay (Matic 60′), Fred; Greenwood (Diallo 83′), Fernandes (Mata 83′), James; Rashford (Martial 65′)
Substitutes Not Used: De Gea, Grant; Lindelof, Shaw, Williams, Tuanzebe; Shoretire
Bookings: Robin Le Normand 88′; Aaron Wan-Bissaka 8′
Written by John Walker