Things we noticed against Real Betis

Thursday 09 March 2023 23:07

Manchester United beat Real Betis 4-1 at Old Trafford to secure a significant lead going into next week's second leg in Spain.

The Reds took the lead through Marcus Rashford, with the in-form striker bagging his 26th goal of the season by blasting the ball past Claudio Bravo early on. The visitors equalised with a well-worked goal from Ayoze Perez to make it 1-1 before half-time.

But in the second half, Erik ten Hag’s men came out with a point to prove. Antony curled in a wonderful effort from distance, before Bruno Fernandes’s first headed goal in over a year beat Bravo at his near post.

The night was capped off with Wout Weghorst scoring for the first time with Old Trafford and the Dutchman's celebration showed just how much that landmark effort meant to him.

The goals are not the only talking points from tonight’s Europa League tie...

United 4 Real Betis 1


The Reds will take a commanding lead to Spain for the second leg of our Europa League last-16 tie.


Both sets of fans gave everything they had on a cold, snowy night at Old Trafford, where temperatures plunged into the minuses. The Real Betis fans created a wall of scarves in the away section of the Theatre of Dreams, while the United fans were as electric as ever, especially as the game progressed. The chants of “We’re Man United and we’re never gonna stop” and “United Road” inspired the team to victory.


Rashford took just six minutes to open the scoring, smashing the ball into the top corner of Bravo’s goal to grab his 26th goal of the season and his fifth in the Europa League, which means he sits joint-top of the goalscoring charts along with Victor Boniface of Union Saint-Gilloise. Ten Hag said in his programme notes that United needed to stick to his principles and rules after Sunday's tough result at Anfield and they certainly did during the early stages on Thursday.


United looked to be in total control of the tie, and could have added more goals to our tally during a dominant opening half an hour, but Betis found a way back into the game. There was a hint of handball in the build-up to the goal, with Ayoze Perez finding the bottom corner despite David De Gea's desperate dive. That effort seemed to knock United's confidence a little and it would take us until early in the second half to regain it.


Antony knows how to curl a ball! United’s Brazilian wing wizard caused problems for the Betis defence on the right side all evening and he took his chance when it came to him. Taking a brilliant touch from a Bruno Fernandes pass, Antony struck the ball with his signature left foot and curved a wonderful hit past Bravo to help United regain the lead. A word too for Aaron Wan-Bissaka, who was brilliant after replacing Diogo Dalot at full-time. His introduction really aided the Reds in dominating the right flank.

How did the other Europa League games go?


See which teams will join United in taking a lead into the second leg of their last-16 ties.


Six minutes later, Fernandes silenced some of his critics as he found space in the Betis box to head home Luke Shaw's corner. It was his first headed goal for over a year, since the 4-2 win against Leeds at Elland Road in February 2022. In truth, Bruno's performance would have been noteworthy even without that individual moment. He helped create the the first two goals, for Rashford and Antony, and was a constant menace throughout, as far as the visiting defence were concerned.


As always, Weghorst pounded the Old Trafford turf, pressing the Real Betis backline and getting himself involved in the play. A couple of opportunities to score a first Old Trafford goal came and went though, with a first-half shot from a Rashford cross the closest the Dutchman had come in the opening 82 minutes. But then, the big moment. After brilliant work from Facundo Pellistri, Scott McTominay's shot was parried by Bravo but Weghorst was there to follow in with the rebound. His superb reaction, as he raced towards the crowd in the corner of the Stretford End, emphasised just how important it was to him, while the cheer from the crowd that greeted Alan Keegan's announcement of his name was arguably the loudest of the night.

Match Quiz


How much were you paying attention to the brilliant 4-1 win over Real Betis?


Pellistri was introduced during the closing stages for his first taste of continental action for United and he certainly didn't disappoint during his short time on the pitch. The Uruguayan spun and sashayed away from the Betis defence in the build up to Weghorst's goal and could have even added a maiden Reds goal, only to be denied by Bravo right at the end. Encouraging from Facu, to say the least.


A 31st win of the season in all competitions for United then, which is at least four more than any other club in Europe have managed in 2022/23. While the tie is by no means over yet, the Reds have a strong three-goal advantage to take to the Estadio Benito Villamarin and must be odds-on favourites to be part of next Friday's quarter-final draw. See how the other first legs went here.