Victory for Manchester United but was not enough

NACHO MAN Sociedad 0 Man Utd 1: Garnacho the matchwinner but Ten Hag’s side fail to win group and could face Barcelona in last-32

 

VICTORY in San Sebastian but a deflated feeling as Manchester United fell short of what they needed to top their group.

Having lost 1-0 at home to Real Sociedad and with an inferior goal difference they needed a two goal win.

Goal hero Alejandro Garnacho feels the love form his idol Cristiano Ronaldo
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Goal hero Alejandro Garnacho feels the love form his idol Cristiano Ronaldo.
Real Sociedad defender Andoni Gorosabel can’t stop Alejandro Garnacho firing the winner with his first goal for Man Utd

Real Sociedad defender Andoni Gorosabel can’t stop Alejandro Garnacho firing the winner with his first goal for Man Utd.
Argentinian Garnacho hails scoring the only goal of a tense Europa League clash

Argentinian Garnacho hails scoring the only goal of a tense Europa League clashCredit: Reuters
But Erik Ten Hag’s side could not build on the 17th minute goal provided by Alejandro Garnacho.

Rarely have home fans celebrated a defeat with such enthusiasm as they did here last night as Real earned the right to skip the first knockout phase.

Any sort of victory over United still means a lot.

Ten Hag pulled a surprise in his team selection ahead of the game giving Donny Van De Beek a rare start.

He played him as a number ten behind Cristiano Ronaldo with Bruno Fernandes pushed out wide.

However, despite, United’s half time advantage it just did not seem to work.

It never does when Van de Beek plays.

For all the fans chant his name, he just has not been good enough whenever he gets a chance and last night was no different.

 

 

Needing two goals it seemed odd that Marcus Rashford was on the bench given the form he is in.

Still, United started strongly with Ronaldo defying the constant boos he was getting from the home fans.

No matter the fact he is coming to the end of his career opposition fans still see him as a threat.

And he was the man with the assist that put United ahead.

David De Gea launched a long kick up field which Fernandes leapt to head into the path of Ronaldo.

The five-time Champions League winner looked up and played a perfectly weighted ball into the path of Garnacho.

There was still much to do as he charged away from his marker but the teenager did it brilliantly.

 

The shot on the half volley with his instep lifted the ball above the grasping right hand of Alex Remiro and in.

 

What a moment in only his second start for the club.

So United half way to their pre-match target of winning by two clear goals.

They looked like reaching that target when Ronaldo nicked the ball of Sociedad’s Jon Pacheco and lobbed the goalkeeper.

But he put just too much on it as the ball nestled on the roof of the net.

Man Utd keeper David de Gea was busy at times and here foils Pablo Marin

Man Utd keeper David de Gea was busy at times and here foils Pablo Marin
Garnacho was at the thick of the action and fires in another effort on goal

Garnacho was at the thick of the action and fires in another effort on goal

 

Cristiano Ronaldo sees the ball and top place slipping away for the Red Devils

Cristiano Ronaldo sees the ball and top place slip
The home side had barely had a sniff of goal until two minutes before the break.

At the weekend David de Gea proved that he remains one of the best shot stoppers on the planet even if he can’t get in Spain’s World Cup squad.

Here was more proof of his enduring worth to United.

Andoni Gorosabel had the first shot which the United number one palmed away but somehow he got his shoulder to deflect the close range follow up from Pablo Marin over the bar.

Just short of the hour Ten Hag realised the Van de Beek experiment was not working as he brought him off.

 

What was suprising was bringing off Victor Lindelof as well and not replacing him with ready made centre-back and club captain Harry Maguire.

Instead on came Scott McTominay and Marcus Rashford with Casemiro moved back to the centre of defence.

Rashford moved into the position just behind Ronaldo that Ten Hag employed in the second-half against FC Sheriff last week when both players got ion the score sheet.

Just one of them, anyone, needed to on this occasion but it was proving a struggle as Real Sociedad came more into the game.

Knowing the 1-0 scoreline would be enough they also started to employ time wasting tactics much to the annoyance of the United players.

It looked like Ten Hag was willing to try anything at this point.

But bringing on Maguire upfront infamously smacked of Louis Van Gaal throwing Nick Powell on in attack against Wolfsburg all those years ago when a goal was needed.

In the final minutes it got desperate as Real put bodies on the line and both Ronaldo and McTominay dug away at the ball to try to get a shot away.

They couldn’t and United fell just short.

Author: Victor

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