Manchester United progressed to the last 16 of the Europa League – 4-0 on aggregate - after a 0-0 draw against a Real Sociedad side at Old Trafford. They also finished the match with six academy players on the pitch, one of whom, Shola Shoretire, became the youngest to play for the club in continental competition.
A goalless draw does not tell the story of an entertaining game to complete an entertaining tie, won easily in the end by Manchester United. The standard of opponent is higher this season than when they won this competition in 2017, but this is a much better United team than that was and they are a side no one will relish getting in tomorrow’s draw for the last 16.
Though they were 4-0 down from the first leg, La Real started well and earned a penalty on 13 minutes when Daniel James clumsily barged into Andoni Gorosabel, down the right of the United box. But Mikel Oyarzabal, who had scored all 18 of his previous penalties, tried the hop technique sometimes deployed by Bruno Fernandes and when Dean Henderson stayed still, blazed his kick high and wide to widespread amusement.
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And it was Fernandes who came closest to breaking the deadlock in an entertaining first half, sweeping a tremendous shot from the edge of the box onto the face of the bar after good work by Mason Greenwood and Fred, but the sides went in level at the interval.
The second half was a more sedate affair but there were still moments of quality. Marcus Rashford, on as sub, completely deceiving Alex Remiro with a free-kick which whistled by the post and Axel Tuanzebe, also on as sub, thundering a colossal header home only to have his first-ever goal confiscated because Victor Lindelof found himself kneeing Jon Baptista, who didn’t jump.

Manchester United's English striker Mason Greenwood reacts

Image credit: Getty Images


There’s absolutely loads to like about Eric Bailly, who has pace, strength, a lovely touch and fine anticipation. But he’s prone to errors and often injured, so it’s not especially hard to see why Ole Gunnar Solskjaer prefers Victor Lindelof as Harry Maguire’s partner – I would not, but it is not my job on the line.

However the errors have been a lot less frequent of a late and he is fit right now, so the time has come for Solskjaer to trust him. Lindelof gives the impression of greater solidity because his errors are less avant garde, but he still makes plenty of them, and two centre-backs who can’t run is nothing on which to build a serious team; Lindelof and Maguire are good enough for top four, but that is all.

On the other hand, both of them look better alongside Bailly, whose speed means they can attack the ball or bring it out knowing there is cover behind them. But even more than that, it enables the whole team to play further up the pitch, squeezing their opponents and making it easier to build attacks. With a crucial run of games coming up, it is time for Solskjaer to be bold.


Eric Bailly (Manchester United) No one played that well but Bailly was good in the opening 20-minute period, during which La Real played well. He should partner Maguire at Chelsea on Sunday.


Man United: Henderson 6, Wan-Bissaka 6, Lindelof 6, Bally 7, Telles 6, Matic 7, Fred 6, Fernandes 6, Greenwood 6, Martial 6, James 6. Subs: Rashford 6, Tuanzebe 7, Williams 6, Amad 6, Shoretire 6.

Real Sociedad: Remiro 6, Gorosabel 6, Zubeldia 6, Sagnan 7, Mumoz 6, Zubimendi 5, Guevara 5, Merino 6, Januzaj 7, Isak 5, Oyarzabal 5. Subs: Portu 6, Bautista 6, Guridi 6, Barrenetxea 6, Guridi 6.


At 17 years and 23 days, Shola Shoretire succeeds Norman Whiteside as United's youngest-ever player in European competition.


13’ - PENALTY TO SOCIEDAD! Januzaj weights a lovely ball in behind for Gorosabel, down the right of the box ... and James gets himself in a right two-an, crashing into him and giving the ref an easy call. Game on?

13’ - OYARZABAL MISSES! I shouldn't laugh, but this is very funny. Oyarzabal steps up like the captain he is and does a little hop and step, then blazes high and wide! In fairness, Henderson did well not to dive and that's the problem with that technique: if the keeper doesn't go, it's hard to generate power on the way down.

24’ - Fernandes is an absolute joke. Greenwood slides a clever pass in behind and into space, onto which Fred runs as Remiro charges over. He does well to punch back a pass for Bruno, who meets it on the run and sends an outswinging curler, smacking onto the face of the bar. that was brilliant.

48’ - Eeesh! Rashford wipes his foot across the ball and Remiro moves left, but the ball fizzes right and skips just past the far post. The keeper would've looked a right charlie had that gone in.
62’ - GOAL! Man United 1-0 Real Sociedad (agg 5-0) Telles swings a decent ball towards the near post and Tuanzebe meets it with a colossal header that flattens Merino! Great finish and a great moment - that his first goal for the first team.

63’ - NO GOAL! As Tuanzebe was powering home, Lindelof leapt, knees up, and clattered Bautista right in the visage. Bautista didn't jump, which is why that happened, but I'm sure this is going to be ruled out. Yup, the goal is ruled out and Lindelof is booked.
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