Manchester United 4-1 Real Betis: Three Things We Learned
It’s going to take a lot more than four days to bury the demons of the Anfield humiliation. But on Thursday Manchester United responded with four goals against Real Betis in the Europa League.
Marcus Rashford calmed the nerves at Old Trafford with a powerful strike in the sixth minute of the game. After the break, Antony, Bruno Fernandes, and Wout Weghorst also took their chances and ensured Ayoze Pérez’s 32nd-minute equaliser meant little by the time the referee blew the final whistle.
Here’s what we learned from the Red Devils’ 4-1 win in the first leg of the round of 16.
1. Wasteful United
Real Betis conceded four goals and were still somehow flattered by the final scoreline considering how dominant United were throughout the night.
The Premier League giants created enough chances to put the game to bed within the opening two quarters, but their wastefulness in front of goal allowed the visitors to get back into the game through Perez’s goal and forced Ten Hag’s men to do it all again in the second half.
United had too much firepower for the La Liga outfit, but their poor finishing had come back to haunt them on more than one occasion this season.
Game state influences results. A more decisive attempt from Rashford after Luke Shaw’s defence-splitting pass could’ve put United ahead at Anfield and things might’ve gone completely different thereon.
2. David de Gea’s Impact
It’s not the biggest secret that the Spaniard isn’t comfortable with the ball at his feet. Erik ten Hag recognised the fact very early in the season and has done well since then to mask his weakness.
But in the last few weeks, the Spaniard has looked subpar at best – both because of his limited attributes and the performances of Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Alisson.
Barcelona and Liverpool comfortably beat United’s press by using their goalkeepers. Meanwhile, but Ten Hag’s men didn’t make any real attempt to play from the back against the two sides and rather risked inviting relentless attack through De Gea’s unsuccessful long balls.
Against Real Betis, United were more comfortable in their defensive third, but De Gea’s distribution was no better and handed the visitors a big chance to make it 2-1, but they could only manage to hit the post.
3. Bruno Fernandes’ Reacts
The United captain was the subject of extreme scrutiny for his uninspiring performance in and out of possession against Liverpool. Some fans and pundits alike opted to ignore his contribution before that game, even going as far as to demand for him to be dropped out of Ten Hag’s team.
The Portuguese silenced the doubters, at least for the next few days, by producing a brilliant performance against Betis.
He assisted Antony’s go-ahead goal and doubled the lead with a glancing header. Further, no player created more chances than the 28-year-old playmaker during the game.