Manchester United secured a comfortable 4-1 win over Real Betis in the first leg of the Europa League round of 16 on Thursday, March 9.
The Red Devils finished second in their group and had to go through the playoff round, where they overcame Barcelona 4-3 on aggregate after heroic displays in both legs. They had won four of their last five games and lost the other. The defeat was a major wake-up call for Erik ten Hag’s men as they were embarrassed 7-0 by Liverpool at Anfield.
The Dutchman, however, showed faith in his players as he named an unchanged XI for this game.
Manchester United made a blistering start to the game as none other than star striker Marcus Rashford fired them into the lead after just six minutes. He showed great composure in the box before smashing a shot into the roof of the net, giving Claudio Bravo no chance of saving it. The hosts continued to push forward and create chances.
United had three glorious chances to add to their lead in the first period as Fred missed one and Wout Weghorst missed two. The Dutchman arguably had one of the best as he fired over the crossbar from close range. Real Betis made the most of this as Ayoze Perez scored with a lovely half-volley following an assist from Juanmi to make it 1-1 after 32 minutes.
Betis carried some momentum as they looked to grab the lead following Manchester United’s lapse in concentration. However, neither side were able to score as they went into the break tied at 1-1.
Manchester United made a dominant start to the second period as they looked to take the lead once again. Bruno Fernandes played the ball out wide to Antony, who cut in from the flank before firing a shot that nestled into the top-left corner as the Red Devils led 2-1 after 52 minutes. Fernandes then got on the scoresheet, firing in a header from a corner by Luke Shaw to make it 3-1 after 58 minutes.
Both managers made changes to get a stranglehold on the game, but Manchester United maintained control over proceedings. Wout Weghorst added a fourth goal in the 82nd minute after substitute Facundo Pellistri’s shot was parried by Bravo. The Red Devils sat tight defensively to see out the rest of the game as they secured a comfortable win.
On that note, let’s take a look at their player ratings.
Manchester United Player Ratings
David De Gea – 6.5/10
De Gea had relatively little to do as he made just one save in the entire game.
Diogo Dalot – 6.5/10
Dalot played well and was replaced after the first half. He won five of his eight duels, making one interception and one tackle. He also completed three dribbles.
Raphael Varane – 7/10
Varane was solid at the back and passed the ball well. He won six of his seven duels, making four clearances and one interception. He passed the ball with 95% accuracy, including one key pass and two long balls.
Lisandro Martinez – 8/10
Martinez made a commanding start to the game and was strong in his tackles, barely allowing Real Betis players any space. He won all seven of his duels, making three clearances, three tackles and one interception. He also played five accurate long balls.
Luke Shaw – 7.5/10
Shaw put in a wonderful display at left-back as he provided an assist for Fernandes’ goal from a corner. He won four duels, making two tackles and one interception. He also played three key passes and two crosses.
Casemiro – 6.5/10
Casemiro was good with the ball at his feet but struggled a bit on the defensive side of things. He passed the ball with 80% accuracy, including one key pass and 11 long balls.
Fred – 6/10
Fred started well but missed a big chance to score in the first half. He won three duels, making two tackles, one interception and one clearance. He also played two long balls.
Antony – 7.5/10
Antony distributed the ball really well in the final third and created chances for Manchester United. He handed his team the perfect start in the second half with a goal in the 52nd minute to make it 2-1. He played two key passes, had three shots on target and won three duels.
Bruno Fernandes – 9/10
Fernandes looked sharp on the ball and passed it around well. He played a pass into the box which led to Rashford’s goal. The Manchester United captain later scored with a headed effort to make it 3-1.
He passed the ball with 79% accuracy, including five key passes, three crosses and three long balls. Fernandes won six duels and made three tackles.
Marcus Rashford – 7.5/10
Rashford made a lovely start to the game and put Manchester United ahead after six minutes. He did a lovely ball-roll to put Luiz Felipe on the ground before smashing it into the goal. He also won three duels.
Wout Weghorst – 7.5/10
Weghorst missed two huge chances to score in the first half as his poor run of form in front of goal continued. He had a total of three shots on target and scored late in the game, his first European goal for United. Weghorst played two key passes and won six duels.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka – 6.5/10
Wan-Bissaka replaced Dalot and put in a decent performance.
Tyrell Malacia – 6.5/10
Malacia replaced Shaw in the second half and played well.
Jadon Sancho – 6.5/10
Sancho came on for Rashford in the second half and put in a good performance.
Scott McTominay – 6/10
McTominay replaced Fred in the closing stages and helped Manchester United see out the rest of the game.
Facundo Pellistri – 7/10
Pellistri came on late in the game and attempted a shot that was saved by Bravo, with Weghorst lurking to smash in the rebound.
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