MANCHESTER, ENGLAND – MARCH 09: Antony of Manchester United celebrates with teammates after scoring the teams second goal during the UEFA Europa League round of 16 leg one match between Manchester United and Real Betis at Old Trafford on March 09, 2023 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Manchester United thrashed Real Betis 4-1 in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League last 16 clash at Old Trafford on Thursday evening.
Despite conceding seven goals to Liverpool on Sunday, Red Devils manager Erik ten Hag went with the same side that started at Anfield.
United made heir intentions clear from the start as Marcus Rashford broke the deadlock in the sixth minute with a thumping finish in the box, just a couple minutes of Wout Weghorst had a goal ruled out for offside.
The hosts continued to dominate and were unlucky not to double their lead when Weghorst fired wide at the near on 17 minutes, while goalkeeper Claudio Bravo rushed off his line to thwart Rashford moments later.
Bravo was called into action once again in the 26th minute to keep out a low strike from Rashford in the box, before Bruno Fernandes fired wide on the rebound.
Betis, however, got back on level terms seven minutes later through Ayoze Perez’s neat finish into the bottom corner, despite replays showing the ball hit Juanmi’s arm in the build up.
The visitors could have entered the break in front after Juanmi pounced on David de Gea’s poor pass to play in Perez, who saw his deflected shot crash against the post before United cleared.
United got back in front six minutes into the second half as Antony netted for the second straight Europa League game with a wonderful curling effort that left Bravo with no chance.
The hosts doubled their lead just before the hour mark, with Fernandes losing his marker to get on the end of Luke Shaw’s corner to head past Bravo for his first goal in the tournament.
United went in search of more goals and they could have had a fourth on 64 minutes when Fernandes delightfully played in Antony, who instead of squaring the ball, opted to lob Bravo but his effort sailed over the bar.
Weghorst finally got his name on the score-sheet and rounded off the scoring in the final ten minutes of the half with a close-range finish, after Scott McTominay’s initial effort was saved by Bravo.
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