Man Utd 4 Real Betis 1: United bounce back from Liverpool mauling in style to all-but progress in Europa League
MANCHESTER UNITED got Real last night as they put the horror show at Anfield behind them.
That 7-0 defeat to their bitterest rivals Liverpool had cast a dark cloud over Carrington and Old Trafford since Sunday.
Man Utd have one foot in the Europa League quarters after a 4-1 win over Real BetisGetty
GettyMarcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes, Wout Weghorst and Antony all scored[/caption]
One defeat in 22 games prior to the trip to Liverpool and one trophy in the bag had suggested all was well in the world for the Red Devils.
The trip to Anfield had been not so much a wake up call but a bucket of iced water over the head.
But beneath the lights in this Europa League last 16 first leg they got back on track to the sunny horizon Erik ten Hag had previously given the club a view of.
He was determined that defeat to Jurgen Klopp’s men would go down as an aberration, a freak, rather than a return to the norm of last season.
Last night provided the first evidence that will be the case with a fine second-half performance against the fifth best team in Spain.
A side who only last weekend battled out a goalless draw against European Champions Real Madrid.
So while it was just the Europa League the result cannot be underestimated.
Ten Hag had sent out the same team that had disgraced themselves at Anfield to win back some faith from a packed Old Trafford – and they did.
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ReutersMarcus Rashford fired United ahead after just six minutes[/caption]
The ace laid to rest his missed attempts in the 7-0 defeat to LiverpoolGetty
Rashford gave United the lead after just six minutes but missed chances let Betis off the hook as they equalised through Ayoze Perez on 32.
Unlike Sunday the half-time team talk this time had an effect as Antony on 52 and Fernandes on 58 sealed put United in control.
Having missed a series of chances earlier in the game Wout Weghorst then added number four to put the Red Devils in pole position ahead of next week’s second leg in Seville to get into the quarter-finals.
Fernandes attracted much criticism for his antics on Sunday, but this game was his response. He was excellent all night.
PAAyoze Perez equalised for Betis after half an hour[/caption]
APThe former Newcastle and Leicester striker was delighted with his effort[/caption]
It was his cross that first helped set up the opener as the ball deflected off Juanmi to Rashford who took a touch to evade the same player and blast a shot into the near top corner.
United should have extended their lead before the break through Weghorst
In the ninth minute he sent a limp header into the grateful clutches of Claudio Bravo.
Then when Luke Shaw fired a great cross into the near post he steered the ball wide.
EPAAntony restored United’s lead seven minutes into the second half[/caption]
APThe Brazilian pounded the badge to show his love for United[/caption]
When Antony provided a similar assist from the same area the towering Dutch frontman hooked the ball over the top.
The look on Antony’s face said it all.
The missed chances looked like they were going to prove costly as Betis equalised with their first shot on target.
Juanmi controlled the ball with his chest, although the ball also ran down his arm, and laid it off for Leicester City’s on loan Perez to fire a cross shot past David de Gea and into the far bottom corner.
The visitors could have gone ahead too when a loose pass out from the back by De Gea was intercepted by Juanmi who found Perez and his shot deflected off Shaw and hit the far post.
APFernandes added another for United just six minutes later[/caption]
PAThe midfielder made up for his Anfield horror show with a great display[/caption]
So Ten Hag will have been happy to get the players into the dressing room and sort a few things out.
They came back out a different team regaining the lead through a fine strike from Antony.
Having been found by Fernandes on the right he cut inside and curled a shot with his left foot into the far top corner.
Ten Hag gave a nod of approval from his technical area.
From a Luke Shaw corner Fernandes got the goal his performance deserved as he sneaked in at the near post and executed bullet header that Bravo could not keep out.
ReutersWeghorst finally netted a second goal for United since his January loan from Burnley[/caption]
GettyThe Dutchman was overcome with emotion as he celebrated[/caption]
United were back to their best and looked like scoring with every attack.
Antony wasted two good chances before Weghorst followed up Scott McTominay’s parried shot to add number four in the 82nd minute.
Fernandes had a great game but could maybe count himself fortunate to have stayed on the pitch to take the acclaim of the crowd.
In the 69th minute he followed through with a challenge and caught goalkeeper Bravo’s on the shin.
He was trying to block a clearance but on the replay it looked bad, still he got away with it.
This time the captain ended the day with a broad grin on his face.
Confidence, and faith, in him and the team had been restored.