to their play. Sadly, the game lacked exactly that incisive pace in the final third to make a telling difference.
Opposition Real Sociedad coach Jagoba Arrasate had stated that his team would take the game to United but it took them a while to come anywhere near fulfilling that promise. They were neat, tidy and on occasion threatened inside United’s box.
Moves of the match Rooney’s delightful flick in the first half teed up a Kagawa shot, while in the second half there was a nice bit of chest control from Fellaini to take the ball away from his man before slipping a neat pass to Rooney, who surged forward and almost found Chicharito’s run. Almost, but not quite. That was the story of the night. Even Kagawa’s brilliantly angled, arced ball over the top for van Persie resulted in the Dutchman twisting and turning to beat his man and returning the pass to United’s Japanese schemer. But it was just a touch too far behind him.
In the stands Usually the travelling Reds are stuck up in the heavens at away grounds. This time, the 1,500 or so United fans were tucked in the corner, low down, peering over Anoeta’s athletics track. Still, they were vocal throughout and all this rain made it feel very much like home. Roy Keane’s appearance on the pitch as part of ITV’s team of pundits provided plenty of reason to reel off the full repertoire of Keane terrace anthems.