Report: United 0 Real Sociedad 0

Thursday 25 February 2021 21:50

Manchester United eased their way into the last 16 of the Europa League despite being held to a second leg goalless draw at Old Trafford against Real Sociedad.

The Reds marched on with a 4-0 aggregate win having done all the hard work in Turin last Thursday night.

This game at Old Trafford was something of a formality, but manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer still sent out a strong Reds XI in a bid to keep the momentum going and avoid any shock turnaround.

United survived an early penalty for Real who missed their chance from the spot and our substitute Axel Tuanzebe had a thundering second-half header chalked off after referee Lawrence Visser consulted a pitchside monitor and spotted a Victor Lindelof foul before the ball was powered home.

And that was the closest we came to breaking the deadlock. The Reds couldn’t add to the impressive showing in Italy, but remained intact and eased comfortably into the draw for the last 16 on Friday.


Our former player Adnan Januzaj was a thorn in United’s side in the early stages appearing to use his return to Old Trafford as a platform to showcase the talents we witnessed as a youngster here starting out in 2013 in the seniors.

The Belgian was at the heart of Real’s opening supremacy and set up the potential for an early goal to maybe set a few nerves jangling. In the 12th-minute it was his pass into Andoni Gortosabel that forced Dan James into a mis-timed challenge to give away a penalty.

While Bruno Fernandes makes his trademark jump and shoot spot-kick look simple, Mikel Oyarzabal proved it is anything but, as he skied his copycat effort high over the bar into the Stretford End.

Januzaj then delivered a tempting low cross that needed a timely interception to turn the ball away for a corner by Victor Lindelof and he put one on a plate for Ander Guevara who blasted over.

United’s only effort amongst that initial burst from the Spaniards was a Fernandes attempt on the turn.

Anthony Martial then rattled in a shot after 22 minutes and Fernandes hit the bar with a cracking shot two minutes later as the Reds came alive.

Fernandes was warming to the task and our Portuguese midfielder crafted a chance for James with a glorious delivery that our winger pounced on with a header, but goalkeeper Alexandra Remiro saved from point-blank range.


Solskjaer made three changes at half-time bringing on Marcus Rashford, Brandon Williams and Tuanzebe on for Bruno Fernandes, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Fred.

On the fifth anniversary of his United senior debut Rashford took over the captain’s armband from Fernandes and almost immediately got on the scoresheet with a free-kick after 48 minutes that swerved late to just pass by the post. The visitors responded with a header from Modibo Sagnan.

Amad Diallo came on as a sub for Dan James, just before the hour-mark, as the boss looked for fresh impetus.

It was an unlikely source of inspiration who looked like he’d given United a second-leg lead when Tuanzebe powered in a header after 63 minutes from an Alex Telles corner. But referee Lawrence Visser went to look at the pitchside monitor and ruled that Lindelof had clattered into Jon Bautista in the air just before the ball reached Tuanzebe.

Lindelof was yellow carded as a result and the goal chalked off. Martial fired over soon after as the Reds looked for that elusive goal that never came. Nevertheless, we march on to the last 16.

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Team line-ups

United: Henderson, Wan-Bissaka (Willams 46), Bailly, Lindelof, Telles, Fred (Tuanzebe 46), Matic, Greenwood (Shoretire 76), Fernandes (Rashford 46), James (Amad 59), Martial.

Subs not used: De Gea, Grant, Bishop, Maguire, Shaw,  Galbraith.

Booked: Fred, Williams, Lindelof

Real Sociedad: Remiro, Gorosabel (Bautista 46), Zubeldia, Sagnan, Munoz, Zubimendi, Guevara (Guridi 72), Merino, Januzaj (Merquelanz 72), Oyarzabal (Barrenetxea 46), Isak (Portu 46)

Subs not used: Marrero, Zeberio, Monreal, Lopez, Gonzalez.