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Comeback Bruno Fernandes performance sees 4-1 Manchester United victory over Real Betis



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Credit: IMAGO / Sportimage

Manchester United’s second-half excellence would see them confidently beat Real Betis in the first leg of their Europa League round of 16 clash thanks to goals from Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes, Antony and Wout Weghorst.

Before the first ball had even been kicked the discussions around Erik ten Hag’s choice of starting 11 ran rampant. Fielding a completely unchanged starting lineup from last weekend’s 7-0 drubbing at the hands of Liverpool, Manchester United needed to rise to the occasion on Thursday night.

Despite maintaining the same starting squad as they did on the weekend, United were forced to make some adjustments to their bench, with Marcel Sabitzer missing out due to an unspecified reason.

The Red Devils started off brightly with Marcus Rashford opening the scoring with an emphatic finish within the first six minutes. Blasting the ball past former Manchester City keeper Claudio Bravo, Rashford left the 39-year-old swiping in the air giving United a much-needed goal.

Rashford’s goal was the second time the ball ended up in the Betis net in the opening 10, after Wout Weghorst rounded off a well-worked move, only for the linesman to deny him his second United goal. In truth Weghorst still should have scored early in the game, with multiple opportunities wasted by the big Dutchman.

Several more chances would come before the end of the first half, only for United to fail to convert any of them, something that would cost the side as Ayoze Perez scored his first Betis goal.

The Spaniard who is on loan from Premier League rivals Leicester would confidently place the ball past his fellow countrymen David De Gea. With an excellent strike with the outside of his foot, United were left praying for a VAR intervention following accusations of a handball that never came.

Though De Gea could not have done much to stop the equaliser, the United keeper was consistently at fault throughout the first half. On multiple occasions, the shot-stopper would make sloppy mistakes, both giving the ball away and inviting pressure on his backline and himself.

The second half much like the first would see United take the lead within 6 minutes of the ball rolling after Antony picked out the top-left corner with an exceptional finish. Picking up the ball outside the box, the Brazillian winger would place the ball perfectly to score his second consecutive Europa League goal.

Less than ten minutes later and United’s lead was doubled, as Bruno Fernandes attacked a Luke Shaw corner with a bullet header that Bravo was unable to stop despite getting both hands to it.

The assist marked a statement for Shaw, who has seen such a massive resurgence this season. Last season he made fewer Premier League appearances than Alex Telles, whereas tonight whilst Telles was got booked within 3 minutes in his Europa tie, Shaw picked up an assist to the goal that could fire United into the quarter-finals.

United almost saw them score the goal of their Europa run so far, after some truly brilliant passing play. The move was rounded off as Fernandes played Antony through, but the forward chose not to square the ball despite having three options, only for his lofted effort to hit the roof of the net.

After Antony’s missed effort the game maintained its high tempo, with United having several more chances that on another day may well have ended up in the back of the net. Antony and Weghorst would miss the best of them, with the former’s effort saved, and the latter’s blocked.

There was also the matter of a potential red card for Bruno Fernandes after he caught Bravo’s shin. Yet despite, the commentary team discussing it at length arguing that, ‘Some people would say that’s a red’, the decision correctly remained a yellow card.

With the game reaching its conclusion, United would introduce both Scott McTominay and Facundo Pellistri, with the pair immediately securing United’s fourth.

Pellistri skipped around three Betis players, before laying the ball to McTominay whose shot was saved by Bravo. The Chilean couldn’t keep hold of the shot, spilling it back into the box as Weghorst pounced on the rebound finally getting his goal.

Despite the full-time score ending 4-1, Erik ten Hag‘s Reds would continue to look for a fifth as the final whistle approached, completing a polar opposite performance to that they offered against Liverpool.

Manchester United will next be in action on Sunday, returning to Old Trafford to face Southampton. The Red Devils will then follow this up by heading to Seville for the second leg against Betis on Thursday.