Granada 0 Manchester United 2
Manchester United were 2-0 winners away at Granada in our Europa League quarter-final first leg, thanks to a sublime Marcus Rashford strike and a late Bruno Fernandes penalty.
The Englishman’s first-half goal, his eighth in Europe this season, put Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side on course for securing an advantage ahead of the home leg at Old Trafford, before Fernandes scored a late spot-kick.
However, the Reds will be without Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw and Scott McTominay for the match in Manchester, as their bookings on the night mean they have accumulated enough yellow cards for a suspension.
Success in SpainGallery
This way for all the best images from our first-leg win in Andalusia.
UNPICKING THE LOCK
From the start, the hosts adopted a style for which they have become known for in La Liga, sitting back and challenging their opponents to break them down. Their regimented organisation made for a slow opening to the half, not helped by a stoppage in play for a pitch invader six minutes after the kick-off.
Paul Pogba went into the book early on when he caught Kenedy in the middle of the park as the Brazilian loanee from Chelsea looked to pinch the ball from him. The resulting free-kick led to Granada being awarded a corner as Fernandes cleared the ball, even though there was a player in an offside position behind him. Thankfully for the Reds, the set play resulted in a tame cross collected by David De Gea.
United were dominating the ball and searching for a way through the sea of red and white shirts and our first chance on goal came when Fernandes was fouled 30 yards from goal. Rashford lined up a shot but it went just over the bar and the Englishman saw another effort go off target as he looked to curl one into the far top corner soon after.
Just after the half-hour mark, Kenedy looked to benefit from a rare move forward by the Spanish side, but he lashed his chance high into the stand. Moments later, the Reds were in front. From a goal kick, Victor Lindelof received the ball and spotted the expertly timed run of Rashford which he serviced with an equally exquisite pass over the top. Controlling it sweetly, Rashford then rolled a cool finish past the onrushing Rui Silva for 1-0.
Now trailing, Granada had to come out more, and they created a couple of chances before the interval. Yangel Herrera's shot ricocheted off the outside of the post, before Roberto Soldado found himself with an opportunity at the back post but couldn't really trouble De Gea.
The only blemishes on the first half for United were the bookings for McTominay and Shaw, as both men will now miss the return leg next week.
KEEPING AT IT
Like in the first 45, the game was interrupted early in the second period. This time, however, the cause was a collision between Domingos Duarte and Daniel James, which lleft both players requiring treatment. The incident was ruled a foul by Duarte and the free kick which eventually followed was driven in purposefully by half-time substitute Alex Telles towards McTominay, only for it to be turned away from danger by a defender.
United skipper Harry Maguire then looked to demonstrate his attacking instinct as he collected the ball in the Granada half. Driving towards goal, he unleashed a shot past the lunges of the several defenders, but also past the post.
Despite trailing, Granada weren’t showing many signs of throwing caution to the wind and leaving gaps by committing players in a bid to draw level. However, Lindelof was twice called into action, cutting out dangerous looking crosses from Herrera and then Carlos Neva.
Maguire was added to the list of United players ruled out of the second leg through suspension when the referee brandished a card for what was a considered a pull back on Soldado.
Eight minutes before time, Fernandes had a chance to double our advantage as he latched onto a ball from a break by James but as he cut back and shot, the keeper was equal to his effort.
With United looking likely winners, a late penalty guaranteed the victory as Fernandes was fouled by Yan Brice, before he slotted home from 12 yards.
Granada: Silva; Neva (Foulquier 74), Duarte (Sanchez 54), Vallejo, Diaz (c); Gonalons (Brice 86), Herrera; Puertas, Montoro, Kenedy (Machis 74); Soldado (Suarez 86).
Subs not used: Escandell, Fabrega, Perez, Molina.
United: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire (c), Shaw (Telles 46); McTominay, Pogba (Matic 73); James, Fernandes, Rashford (Cavani 65); Greenwood (van de Beek 85).
Subs not used: Grant, Henderson, Tuanzebe, Williams, Amad, Fred, Mata, Elanga.
Goals: Rashford 31, Fernandes 90.
Booked: Pogba, McTominay, Shaw, Maguire, Matic.