Real Sociedad 0, Manchester United 4 (UEFA Europa League Round of 32 First Leg)
Bruno Fernandes scored twice as Manchester United hit four ‘away goals’ in Turin against Real Sociedad in their Europa League encounter.Embed from Getty Images
Marcus Rashford and Daniel James scored the other two as the Reds put the tie to bed in the first half in Italy as pacy United ruthlessly put the La Liga side to the sword.
It was a just reward after a wobbly start in each half after which Sociedad, who were top of La Liga when the Round of 32 draw was initially made but have since dropped to fifth, faded.
Remarkably it represented United’s first win against Spanish opposition in their last ten matches.
COVID travel restrictions meant that the UEFA Europa League Round of 32 match was being played in Turin – technically the away game for Manchester United – at the Juventus Stadium.
It twas unusual times for United but there were familiar names in the Sociedad side, with former Manchester City playmaker David Silva lining up with ex-United winger Adnan Januzaj, ex-Arsenal full back Nacho Monreal, and former Newcastle United midfielder Mikel Merino lining up against them.
New signing from Atalanta – Amad Diallo – and youth product Shola Shoretire – at 17 years and 16 days the youngest player on the Reds bench having been handed the number 74 shirt, featured on the bench for the Reds.
United boss Ole Gunnar admitted that the scoreline may have flattered the Reds who were clinical on the night, saying:
“We scored some good goals and played some nice football against a good team, perhaps it wasn’t a 4-0 win but if we can find spaces like this we can play.
“When you don’t have the ball as much you have defend well.
“And we earned the right to counter attack quickly. When we got 2-0 up the spaces opened up for us.
He was especially pleased for the scorer of the fourth goal, Dan James, saying:
“I was very pleased for him [James] – it was a good goal and I liked that he went all the way instead of looking for a pass. He’s getting back to his best.”
And James may not be the only winger playing himself into form – Solskjaer also handed young winger Diallo his debut, adding:
“He’s getting closer and closer to his minutes so I thought at 3-0 up we could give him his first 10 minutes with the club.”
Clinical finishing by Manchester United as they blow past Real Sociedad in Europa League game in Italy
Solskjaer opted for five changes to the side that drew with West Bram at the weekend.
Dean Henderson, Eric Bailly, Alex Telles, Daniel James, and Mason Greenwood came into the side while David De Gea, Victor Lindelof, Luke Shaw, Anthony Martial, and Edinson Cavani stepped down the bench.
The ‘home side’ were off to a quick start – Januzaj shot wide after a mistake by Eric Bailly allowed the Sociedad winger to have a free run on the retreating Harry Maguire.
Marcus Rashford had a shot saved by Alex Remiro before Alexander Isak also forced a fine save from Henderson, who had a quiet night thereafter, as both sides started on the offensive in the opening couple of minutes.
Scott McTominay and Rashford saw shots saved by Remiro with a follow-up cleared off the line from James as United failed to capitalise on early possession.
Pressure eventually told though and Bruno Fernandes hit his 20th goal of the season for the Reds after a ball over the top from Rashford found the Sociedad defenders and goalkeeper getting in each others way with the Portuguese capitalising on the resulting loose ball to thrash it home after 27 minutes.
Bailly cleared off the line after Monreal had illegally headed the ball out of Henderson’s arms.
Robin Le Normand saw his speculative shot saved by Henderson after the restart while Maguire intercepted a cross which would have been a tap-in for Isak.
But as in the first half United caught Sociedad on the hop and James touched the ball on for Fernandes to finish again after 57 minutes after the Portuguese had dummied Rashford’s initial cross from the left for a fine goal which was confirmed after a lengthy VAR check for his 21st goal of the season.
Nemanja Matic replaced McTominay on the hour and was straight into the action, knocking a cross from Januzaj out of play.
And with 65 minutes gone the tie was effectively over after Rashford timed his run to perfection to meet Fred’s through ball and score from 12 yards past Remiro for his 17th goal of the season – and 7th in Europe.
It should have been 4-0 after 68 minutes when Greenwood picked out James with a left wing square ball for a confident finish by the Welsh winger but VAR ruled it out for the tardy forward pass by Rashford.
Rashford was withdrawn for Martial after 69 minutes as the Reds went into cruise control with Maguire’s header from Telles’ corner saved by Remiro.
James was again denied by Remiro while Greenwood dragged his shot wide as United went looking for a fourth before Juan Mata and Diallo were brought on for the last 7 minutes for Fernandes and Greenwood with the latter making his much awaited debut.
And in the last minute of normal time James effectively ended the tie after scoring a deserved fourth goal on the night after cutting in from the right and drilling the ball through the legs of Remiro from 5 yards out – his fourth of the season.
GOALS – Real Sociedad 0, Manchester United 4 (UEFA Europa League Round of 32 First Leg)
Real Sociedad 0, Man Utd 1: 27. Bruno Fernandes pounced on the loose ball to score after two Sociedad defenders and their goalkeeper got in each other’s way trying to clear the ball which subsequently broke to the Portuguese who dropped off and got the loose ball he was waiting for to shoot into the unguarded net.
Real Sociedad 0, Man Utd 2: 57. Bruno Fernandes dummied a pass from Marcus Rashford that went to Daniel James who touched it back into his path for a well taken finish which was confirmed after a VAR check.
Real Sociedad 0: Man Utd 3: 65. Marcus Rashford timed his run to perfection to beat the offside trap and slide the ball past Alex Remiro after running onto Fred’s through ball.
Real Sociedad 0, Man Utd 4: 90. Daniel James completed the rout after cutting in from the right, unchallenged, and drilling the ball through Alex Remiro’s legs from 5 yards out.
MATCH FACTS – Real Sociedad 0, Manchester United 4 (UEFA Europa League Round of 32 First Leg)
Real Sociedad: Remiro, Zaldua (Gorosabel 74), Elustondo, Zubeldia, Monreal, Silva, Illarramendi (Guevara 74), Merino, Januzaj, Isak (Barrenetxea 80), Oyarzabal (Bautista 87)
Real Sociedad subs not used: Portu, Munoz, Guridi, Sagnan, Guevara, Merquelanz, Lopez, Zubimendi, Marrero
Booking: Le Normand 89 (foul on Daniel James)
Man Utd: Henderson, Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Maguire, Telles, McTominay (Matic 60), Fred, James, Fernandes (Mata 83), Rashford (Martial 69), Greenwood (Diallo 83)
Man Utd subs not used: De Gea, Grant, Lindelof, Shaw, Williams, Tuanzebe, Shoretire
Booking: Wan-Bissaka 8 (foul on Nacho Monreal)
Goals: Fernandes 27, 57; Rashford 65; James 90
Referee: Sandro Scharer