The worst thing for Real Betis about going to Old Trafford in the Europa League was that Liverpool demolished Manchester United in the Red Devils’ last time out. The 7-0 defeat at Anfield had Erik ten Hag and his players frustrated and seeking revenge. Betis was just the next team to line up opposite them.
Despite a level scoreline at halftime, Manchester United flipped a switch in the second half. Three second-half goals ensured Manchester United travel to Spain with a healthy advantage on the aggregate. That game, scheduled for next week, is another chance for United to make amends for the defeat against Liverpool.
Based on the way Thursday’s game at Old Trafford started, there was a fire about United. It took only six minutes for the hosts to do something it could not at the weekend. Bruno Fernandes’s cross fell kindly to Marcus Rashford after a deflection from Betis defender Luiz Felipe. Rashford took the ball onto his favored right foot and boomed a shot over Claudio Bravo into the roof of the net.
However, Betis looked the more likely of the two to score after that. That culminated in the 32nd minute with Ayoze Perez, the former Leicester City, guiding a perfectly placed shot past an outstretched David de Gea. With the score tied, Manchester United clung to a tie. Betis hit the post not long before halftime, a welcome whistle for Erik ten Hag.
United dominate in second half of Europa League against Betis
Whatever the Dutch manager told his players at the interval, it worked. From the restart, Manchester United pressed forward like a different team, although the only change was Aaron Wan-Bissaka for Diogo Dalot at right back.
Still, it took next to no time for United to score, just as it did in the first half. This time, it was Antony on the right hand side. Like Arjen Robben, the Brazilian cut inside to his left foot, scoring from over 20 yards out into the top corner. It is a mirror image of the goal that eliminated Barcelona in the previous round of the Europa League.
Just six minutes later, United found the back of the net again. Bruno Fernandes, usually delivering the set pieces, nodded home a corner. With good pace on the attempt, Claudio Bravo could not get his hands up in time.
However, that would not be enough for United, which suffered so many goals against just a handful of days ago. Wout Weghorst added United’s fourth of the game after terrific work from Facundo Pellistri. The young Uruguayan received a cleared corner. Then, he dribbled along the right hand side around Betis defenders, sending a low driven ball into the middle. Claudio Bravo kept out Scott McTominay’s snap shot. But, Weghorst was there to clean it up. It is just the Dutchman’s second goal for United since coming over on loan, and his first at home. His emotion was visible as he celebrated in front of the Stretford End.
Major advantage going down to Spain
It was always going to be Erik ten Hag’s goal to win by a comfortable margin. Based on the past, he, the players and the fans needed something to cheer about after one of the darkest days in the club’s history. After all, that was United’s worst loss of all time, or at least tied for it.
However, this allows United some breathing room in the Europa League as it looks to get into the quarterfinals yet again. Betis has had success at the Benito Villamarín. Most recently, that was a draw against Real Madrid. However, on the season, the club has six wins, three draws and three losses at home. Clearly, it is not a walk in the park, even for top clubs in Europe.
United will look to find success, where worst case scenario is to lose by two, in a week’s time.
PHOTO: IMAGO / PA Images
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