MAN UTD 4, REAL BETIS 1
Manchester United banished Sunday’s horror show at Liverpool by taking a huge step towards the quarter-finals of the Europa League.
The Reds, who suffered their joint worst-ever defeat in the 7-0 loss, built a commanding lead to take to Spain for the return against Real Betis.
Marcus Rashford gave United an early lead and they ought to have built on that before they were stunned when Ayoze Perez equalised shortly before half time.
The Reds were rattled but regained their composure in the second period when they added further goals from Antony, Bruno Fernandes and a second goal for the club from Wout Weghorst.
And barring a major upset, United will make the last eight, a relief as each of their last five European campaigns have been ended by Spanish opposition.
The only sour note was the trouble as rival fans pelted one another with missiles with riot police intervening to restore order after ugly scenes which are expected to be investigated by UEFA.Embed from Getty Images
The importance of the win was reiterated by Rashford who said: “It is always important to win the next fixture after a loss it is the only way to bounce back and continue to the momentum we had before the game.
“We always try to start quick, and a goal always helps that and I think they defended the box well in the first half but in the second half it opened up more as to be expected with the game at 1-1.
“We started well in both halves, and it is important to try and score the goals and that is the difference.
“It is a step back in the right direction we have to build on it now again, but we can’t put too much emphasis on Sunday because it is gone, and we can’t change it so we have to keep moving forward.”
Ten Hag was delighted with the response, saying: “We had to reset and bounce back. We played a very good game in both halves. At half-time we should have been up 3-0 but we make one mistake it is 1-1.
“We scored some good goals. We gave the fans something to support, and they gave it back so we are very grateful.
“It was a great attitude, we were good on the ball, made good switches and runs in behind and created a lot of chances.
“It is always good to see how the team reacts after a set-back. This is not the first time this season we can reset and bounce back. This team has character, so big compliment to the team.”
Ten Hag was delighted with Fernandes who was criticised after the loss at Liverpool.
He explained: “Bruno was the best player on the pitch and showed his personality.
“He played a deeper role and was a brilliant leader from the back and his rhythm of the game. He made a lot of good passes and created a lot of chances.”
Betis boss Manuel Pellegrini said the game was decided in five minutes.
“After the two goals (in quick succession to make it 3-1), we were not the team we are,” he said.
“In a knockout game, it is never over and there is still 90 minutes to play. We must start well from minute one if we are to turn the game around.
“We are taking on a tough team, but we are going to try.”
Ten Hag named exactly the same starting line up from the 7-0 Premier League humbling at Liverpool last Sunday.
Pellegrini, the former Manchester City manager, included former City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo and Leicester City loanee Perez in their side.
United set out with intent to put right the wrongs of Sunday.
Weghorst had a goal ruled out before the Reds made a sixth minute breakthrough through Rashford.
Fernandes’ cross from the right was poorly cleared by Luiz Felipe to Rashford who took a couple of strides before firing high into the roof of the net for his 26th goal of the season.
Weghorst had two great chances to increase the lead, Bravo made a decent save before the Dutch striker fired wide at the near post from Luke Shaw’s cross.
Rashford also forced a diving save from Bravo as the second goal continued to prove elusive.
After barely threatening, Betis equalised in the 32nd minute.
Juanmi threaded a ball to Perez on the right of the penalty area and he fired low into the far corner for the first goal for the club since his January loan move.
It might have got worse for the Reds shortly before the break after a poor clearance by De Gea
The ball was intercepted and played into Perez whose shot from the left of the box was deflected and hit the far upright.
Ten Hag opted to make a change for the restart, Aaron Wan-Bissaka replacing Diogo Dalot.
United regained the lead in the 52nd minute when Antony curled a delightful shot into the top corner from the right of the box after being set up by Fernandes, just the start the Reds needed after surrendering the lead late in the opening period.
It was the Brazilian’s seventh goal of the season with his last four netted in cup competitions.
And it was quickly followed by a third United goal as the Reds took a firm grip.
Shaw’s corner was met at the near post by Fernandes who headed high into the roof of the net, his first goal in nine matches and eighth of the season.
Antony had a great chance to score a fourth goal after a brilliant passing moved ended with the winger lifting the ball over Bravo only to see it land on the roof of the net.
Ten Hag made a double change mid-half as Rashford and Shaw made way for Jadon Sancho and Tyrell Malacia.
Bravo pulled a smart stop to deny Antony following a breakaway by Weghorst.
Ten Hag’s final two changes were Scott McTominay and Facundo Pellestri for Fred and Antony.
And the substitutes immediately linked for United’s fourth goal in the 82nd minute.
Pellestri crossed from the right for McTominay whose shot was beaten out by Brave but only to Weghorst who fired home the loose ball.
Casemiro and Pellestri had chances to add a fifth goal late on as United ended in total control.