Manchester United earned a dominant 4-0 win against Real Sociedad in the away leg of their Round of 32 tie, led once again by Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford. The game, played in Turin due to travel restrictions, gives the Red Devils a great advantage ahead of the 2nd leg next week, and they did so against the 5th placed team in La Liga.
The game started quickly, with Adnan Januzaj sending a shot just wide of Dean Henderson’s net, and moments later Rashford getting on the end of a long ball forward, only to be denied by a focused, charging Alex Remiro.
The first 20 minutes were excellent entertainment, with good chances for both sides. Rashford should have scored a couple times, and hit one right at the goalkeeper from point blank range.
After 26 minutes United broke the deadlock. Rashford sent a ball over the top, and though the defense and goalkeeper all converged the ball slipped through everyone, leaving an empty net for a patient Bruno Fernandes to slot it home. 1-0 United.
Real Sociedad were not without their opportunities, but Manchester United were handling the hectic game better. Scott McTominay in particular was doing well under pressure in midfield, getting out of tight areas and finding passes forward.
After about half an hour Real Sociedad settled into possession. They struggled to open up space in the final third, found a couple decent balls across goal from open play and an ensuing corner. David Silva and Oyarzabal in particular opened things up, and the Maguire-Bailly pairing were scrambling for a moment.
United found relief in the final minutes of the half, but couldn’t capitalize on a set piece opportunity. The teams went into the locker room divided by Bruno’s 20th goal of the season.
The Spanish side started the second half as they tried to finish the third, and if not for an attentive Eric Bailly and a good blocked cross from Harry Maguire they might have found an equalizer. Oyarzabal again proved threatening, and Alexander Isak was lively as well, though a bit eager as he was called offside twice in a short span. The Sociedad players were keen to assert themselves on the match, and whenever United found their way forward they were met with harsh tackles and fouls. The quick counters resulted in a chance on goal in the 55th minute, which Bruno converted, but it was called for offside by the linesman. After a VAR review the goal was ruled onside, and stood. Bruno was indeed level with Daniel James when the final ball was played. 2-0 United.
Scott McTominay, who was questionable before the match, was subbed off for Nemanja Matic following the goal. He was assisted by a physio and went straight to the dressing room, a worrying sight for the man in form. Sociedad went back on the attack quickly, and Matic had to play a ball out of bounds just after jogging onto the pitch. The attempts seemed a bit desperate however, and United settled comfortably back into possession.
The chances kept coming, and Rashford finally got a goal after a great performance to make it 3-0 in the 65th minute. 17th goal of the season for him, coming 1-on-1 with the keeper on the end of a Fred through ball. Dan James scored another on the break just two minutes later, but this one was rightfully flagged for offside. Anthony Martial came on for Rashford, and United kept up the search for more goals to try and put the tie to bed before the return leg.
United kept up the pressure, in firm control, and in the 83rd minute Ole took the opportunity to bring on Amad Diallo for his Manchester United debut. Juan Mata came on as well for Bruno, who looked disappointed despite a good nights work.
Daniel James wrapped things up in the 90th minute, scoring to make it 4-0 after a good run onto the end of an Eric Bailly pass. He had Martial and Diallo as help, but took it himself from a difficult angle.