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Ratings: Rashford and Fernandes put United 2-0 up on aggregate with victory over Granada; Lindelof MOTM?

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Manchester United beat Granada 2-0 in the UEFA Europa League quarter-final first leg at the Nuevo Estadio de Los Cármenes on Thursday evening. It was a fraught first half until Marcus Rashford, played through by a Victor Lindelof long-ball in the 31st minute of the match. Granada did not seem to be in the mood to score goals, as they had done at home in the last two knockout rounds of the competition. A late penalty scored by Bruno Fernandes, after he was seemingly fouled in the box, giving United a two away goal cushion to take back to the Theatre of Dreams next week.

Granada started the game well, launching on the attack right away, trying to get United with their pants down. Fortunately, it was not meant to be for the Spanish side. The game soon started to become lacklustre and the highlight was a streaker on the pitch in the sixth minute, who looked rather like Mohamed Salah, but it was not him, he will still be hiding after Liverpool were humiliated by Real Madrid. United had the majority of the possession in the opening 25 minutes of the match but there were no real chances that could have amounted to something, which was a worry, but something United have been known for, especially recently.

In the 31st minute of the match, not that we were able to see it live on BT Sport in England, Marcus Rashford opened the scoring, getting his 20th goal of the season so far. On replay, David De Gea fed the ball out to Victor Lindelof, who had time on the ball to think ahead. Rashford was rushing forward, remaining onside only for the Swedish international to loft a long ball up field to Rashford, who beat the Granada goalkeeper cooly to put United ahead, which ends Granada’s current form at home in the knockout stages where they have beaten both Napoli and Molde 2-0 in the first leg, losing 2-1 in the second and going through on aggregate.

United will need to make some changes next week with a flurry of yellow cards in this half. Paul Pogba was booked in the eighth minute of the match, Scott McTominay was booked in the 40th minute and Luke Shaw was booked in the 42nd minute and both McTominay and Shaw will miss the second leg through suspension, which is not the end of the world for United but it will cut Solskjaer’s options down a little next week at the Theatre of Dreams. The first half was brought to a close with United still leading 1-0, having 66% of the ball and more importantly, having eight shots, one on target resulting in the goal, two off target and five being blocked.

At the start of the second half, Solskjaer made his first substitution with Alex Telles replacing Shaw, who was booked in the first half – possibly keeping him fit for Sunday’s clash with Tottenham Hotspur. Both United and Granada were trying to get something from the game in the early stages of the half with United seemingly the most comfortable team on the pitch. In the 65th minute of the match, Edinson Cavani replaced Rashford, the scorer of the only goal in the match, which will have been well-received by some with Rashford’s injury not completely recovered. United will need to retain their lead ensuring that they don’t conceded.

Harry Maguire was booked in the 72nd minute of the match, which means he will also miss the second leg because an accumulation of yellow cards in the competition. United should strive to score more goals in this match to give them a cushion next week, as United’s defence will not be as strong as it could be next week, which could see Solskjaer revert to a 3-4-1-2 formation or similar. In the 64th minute of the match, Solskjaer made his third substitution with Nemanja Matic replacing Pogba, who was on a yellow card from the eighth minute of the match. Granada have not looked like scoring in this match, which might change next week.

Nemanja Matic was booked in the 84th minute of the match for a foul, which was a harsh booking. A minute later, Solskjaer made his fourth substitute with Donny van de Beek replacing Mason Greenwood. United should, in may opinion, have given Amad Diallo and Anthony Elanga a chance as United are leading, could have scored more goals and more importantly, earned both players more confidence ahead of the second leg at Old Trafford in a week’s time. United won a penalty in the 89th minute of the match with Bruno Fernandes scoring his 24th goal of the season a minute later. United got what they needed a two-goal cushion to take into next week.

No matter what those who always find something to moan about say, United won this match with two away goals, which will put them in good stead of reaching the semi-final of the competition. They will need to keep a clean sheet at Old Trafford next week, or score a few more goals to give them more of a cushion. However, the suspension of Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw and Scott McTominay will be a big loss and Solskjaer will need to have a game plan to get by without the trio. It is possible that other players end up getting booked next week, which will cause more of a problem for the club. That said though, United have one foot in the door.

Solskjaer’s side will now be able to get ready for Sunday’s Premier League clash with Tottenham Hotspur, who are not the team they were at the start of the season, and neither are United. This will be a battle to show the Spurs supporters that just because they scored six goals at Old Trafford, does not mean they win a trophy, which is something the club have been lacking in for many years now, winning the League Cup more than ten years ago and watching other London clubs win silverware in that time. Spurs are struggling to break into the top four this season which shows how far they have fallen and they could fall further this season.

Manchester United

1 David De Gea

Good to see him back in goal but it seems likely that he is the goalkeeper for the cup competitions now, unless Solskjaer aims to keep him in goal on Sunday too, considering he has not played in any of the last seven matches before tonight. The clean sheet will be something he is happy about.

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29 Aaron Wan-Bissaka

Did well inn his own third but I would like to see more from him in an attacking sense. United can be predictable attacking on the left and need to do more on the right. That could work better with a proper right-winger in the team.

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2 Victor Lindelof

Played a superb long-ball into Rashford up the other end of the pitch, paving the way for the Rashford to open the scoring in the 31st minute of the match

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5 Harry Maguire

Helped keep United going throughout the match. Booked which means he missed the next match so will get a break next week. The clean sheet and the 2-0 aggregate lead will help United get through the disappointment. Got forward a few times in the second half.

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23 Luke Shaw

Did what he needed to do in the first half but was booked, which means he will miss the second leg of this match. He was replaced by Telles at the start of the second half.

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39 Scott McTominay

Suspended for next week's second leg. Played the defensive midfielder role and did well throughout the match. Will probably be annoyed that he will miss next week's clash but it is one of those things. He will get a rest now.

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6 Paul Pogba

Booked in the eighth minute of the match. He was not the best player on the pitch but not the worst either. He had his moments but was not involved in anything special.

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Ratings: Rashford and Fernandes put United 2-0 up on aggregate with victory over Granada; Lindelof MOTM?

Seemed to be restricter on the right and played a lot better on the left. Had pace a plenty throughout the match but did not seem to be a threat on the ball. He's a good player to have in the tea, as his energy is great to see. He needs to score more goals though to get the FIFA plebs off his back.

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18 Bruno Fernandes

Seemed unhappy at how the game was progressing in the first half and did not look like scoring himself until United won a late penalty, which became his 25th goal of the season.

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10 Marcus Rashford

Looked to have been carrying his injury still, but he has obviously said that he can play with the medical staff giving him the go ahead. Seemed to struggle at times but opened the scoring from a Lindelof assist in the 31st minute, putting United ahead in Spain. He was replaced by Cavani in the 65th minute of the match.

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11 Mason Greenwood

Did well at times for United but experience wise, he was unable to lead the line well for United this evening. He was often isolated up top and was switched to the right when Cavani came on.

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Substitutes

27 Alex Telles

Replaced Shaw 46'. Came on for Shaw and did well at left-back. Seemed to be better at dead-ball situations that with the ball moving. Will probably start next week too, so he has that to look forward too with Shaw suspended.

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21 Edinson Cavani

Replaced Rashford 65'. Made his first appearance in the Europa League this season. Led the line in a more experienced way but still did not get a goal.

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31 Nemanja Matic

Replaced Pogba 74'. Came on late in the game to help steer the club to victory. Harshly booked, which he has something to say about. However, the referee has many harsh booking in him tonight.

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34 Donny van de Beek

Replaced Greenwood 85'. Came on for the last five minutes plus added time. It was nothing more than a cameo for him. He might start next week though.

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Goals: Marcus Rashford 31′, Bruno Fernandes 90’

Assists: Victor Lindelof 31′

Manchester United: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw (Telles 46′); McTominay, Pogba (Matic 74′); James, Fernandes, Rashford (Cavani 65′); Greenwood (Van de Beek 85′)

Substitutes Not Used: Grant, Henderson; Williams, Tuanzebe; Mata, Fred, Diallo; Elanga

Bookings: Paul Pogba 8′, Scott McTominay 40′, Luke Shaw 42′, Harry Maguire 72′, Nemanja Matic 84′

Written by John Walker

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copyright: JW