Manchester United put their poor domestic form behind them and put on a show in Turin with their 4-0 victory over Real Sociedad. The Reds will take four away goals back with them to Old Trafford, in which they already have one foot in the last 16 of the Europa League.
The Red Devils got back to winning ways following their drab draw to relegation-threatened West Brom. United put in a vintage away performance in this midweek clash, which took place in the neutral venue of Turin. The “home side” have been in excellent form in La Liga and Solskjaer saw this as a very difficult tie. A player Solskjaer would have told his men to be wary about would be former United player Adnan Januazaj. Januazaj has been an influential player in Sociedad’s impressive form this season. The return fixture will be held at Old Trafford and with the four goal cushion they already have, Solskjaer’s men should be able to see this tie out. Hopefully, for the second leg the United boss will be able to welcome back summer arrivals Cavani and van de Beek, who missed this fixture through injury.
First Half: United deal with early Sociedad pressure
The game began with a flurry of chances for both sides. Sociedad had two big chances in the opening exchanges and it was that man Januazaj that was in action. A rare mistake from the recalled Eric Bailly allowed Januazaj to get his shot off. His curling effort went just wide of the top corner and United were let off. At the other end Marcus Rashford found himself one on one with Sociedad keeper Remiro with the latter coming out victorious. Dean Henderson then made a smart save to deny Alexander Isak’s near post effort. After this flurry of chances the game began to settle down.
United began to crank up the pressure, as Fernandes got on the end of a sublime pass from Telles. The Portuguese maestro then set up Rashford with the perfect pass only for Rashford to shoot straight at the keeper again. Fernandes was first to the loose ball but his goal-bound effort met the head of a Sociedad defender. Recently, the Englishman has been wasteful in front of goal. This might be because of him being put in numerous roles in the past few weeks.
Eventually, United took the lead and it was that man Bruno Fernandes who made the breakthrough. Rashford sent an ambitious through ball in the direction of Fernandes and after some shocking defending Fernandes got his 20th goal of the season as he slotted into an empty net. Although United were on top there were some late scares for the Reds. Mason Greenwood, typically known for his attacking prowess, made a last-gasp clearance to keep his side ahead.
Second half: United find their rhythm
Just like Greenwood, skipper Harry Maguire also made a last-gasp clearance to maintain United’s lead. The second half was a representation of United’s season-VAR controversy and lethal counter attacks. Manchester United got their second of the night in the 57th minute courtesy of Bruno Fernandes. Fernandes let Rashford’s pass run through his legs to Daniel James. James then gave it to Fernandes, who found the back of the net in trademark fashion. Celebrations came to a halt as the linesman put his flag up. The official then went to VAR, in which the replays clearly showed that the Portuguese man was onside. 2-0 to Manchester United.
Rashford, who had a torrid time in front of goal, did get on the scoresheet. Tireless playmaker Fred sent Rashford through on goal and this time the English forward coolly put it away. It was clear that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer told his players to keep going and not settle with a two goal margin. The Reds went up another gear and it was wave after wave of Manchester United attacks.
Daniel James put the ball in the back of the net only for VAR to rule it out for offside as Mason Greenwood was just offside in the build up. However, minutes later the Welshman could not be caught by the tiring Sociedad defenders as he drilled in United’s fourth. New arrival Amad Diallo made his debut for United with his late cameo in the game. The winger looked neat and tidy throughout and United supporters will be hoping to see him in action again in the coming weeks.
Sociedad tie over but what’s next for United?
Solskjaer’s men will face Sociedad again next week, but will turn their attention to Sunday’s league game against Newcastle. Although, the title is looking unlikely the Reds must treat every league game as a must-win. That way they can capitalise on any City collapse, although this looks unlikely. Solskjaer will likely field a strong side against Newcastle, as this tie against Sociedad is pretty much won.