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Manchester United 4-1 Real Betis: Rampant second half display has Reds in control against Betis

Back in European action, and back in the win column...

Manchester United v Real Betis: Round of 16 Leg One - UEFA Europa League Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

Manchester United bounced back from their weekend embarrassment in the Premier League by continuing their good form in cup competitions, dispatching La Liga side Real Betis 4-1 in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League Round of 16 tie. It was a bit of a rocky first half for the Reds despite taking an early lead, but they once again responded with a solid second half performance that may just have put the tie to bed.

The Reds certainly started the match with some fire, and it wasn’t long before they found the lead. A counter attacking opportunity in the sixth minute ended with Marcus Rashford beating a man in the box and firing a laser beam strike through Claudio Bravo’s hands at the near post.

United continued to create chances afterwards, with Wout Weghorst called offside twice, once putting the ball in the back of the net and once skying the ball into orbit from point blank range. It felt as though the game was going all one way, but that feeling quickly passed as the visitors pounced on an opportunity of their own.

Ayoze Perez found the equalizer for the visitors in the 32nd minute, firing through the crowd from the edge of the box and finding the far right corner. There was a potential handball from Juanmi in the buildup, but the VAR check quickly ruled it out. David De Gea watched the shot all the way, but reacted too late to get close to it, a poor moment from all involved for United and a moment against the run of play.

Rashford nearly created an opportunity to get back in front before halftime, driving to the byline and cutting it back for Antony, but Vinicius blocked the attempt before the play was called back for offside anyway.

The sides went into the halftime interval level at 1-1, but it could have been worse for United. David De Gea nearly gifted Real Betis with opportunities on three separate giveaways, one of which was only denied by the upright.

The second half began with a seemingly motivated United side, probably after a chat with Erik ten Hag in the dressing room during the break, and the efforts were rewarded quickly. Antony whipped out his Arjen Robben impersonation by cutting onto his left and curling a shot into the far corner

Bruno Fernandes found the net just a few minutes later, heading home a near post corner cross from Luke Shaw. It was a well worked corner routine, which was nice, but even better to see Bruno shake the loss at the weekend and get on the scoresheet. He was under particular scrutiny after the match from the press and fans on social media, but like (most of) his teammates he was back to looking sharp.

United were really clicking after that, and probably should have made it three goals in just a few minutes. A well worked chance by Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Bruno set up Antony one on one with Bravo, but his chip landed on the top of the net. Soon after that Jadon Sancho and Tyrell Malacia arrived to help finish off the match, and potentially the tie, replacing Rashford and Luke Shaw respectively.

The Reds continued creating good chances. Sancho set up Fred for a go, but Bravo was equal to it. Weghorst had another great chance as well, but a defender got a foot in just as he was about to strike it.

Scott McTominay and Facundo Pellistri arrived as further replacements for Fred and Antony in the final minutes of the game, and both made an immediate impact. Pellistri received a corner after it sailed over the crowd, driving to the byline and pulling it back for McTominay. The Scotsman’s shot was saved, but the rebound fell perfectly for Weghorst, who literally could not miss from there and converted to make it 4-1.

It clearly meant a lot to the Dutchman, scoring in front of the Stretford End, and it was a goal to potentially seal the Round of 16 tie.

United are back in Premier League action on Sunday, taking on Southampton at Old Trafford as they look to return to winning ways in that competition.