Manchester United returned to winning ways in style to put one foot in the last 16 of the Europa League with a crushing 4-0 victory over Real Sociedad in Turin.
It was another vintage away performance from United, who came through some early shaky moments thanks to the genius of Bruno Fernandes and an imperious display of counter-attacking football.
United led at the break after Fernandes capitalised on chaotic Sociedad defending, before the Portugal international double their advantage with a brilliant curled effort which survived the tightest of VAR offside reviews before the hour-mark.
United then cut loose as Marcus Rashford and Daniel James broke away to plunder further goals to secure a memorable fourth victory in Turin which all but puts the tie beyond Sociedad, who failed to harness the talents of David Silva on a forgettable night for the La Liga club.
Real Sociedad: Remiro (6), Zaldua (5), Le Normand (5), Zubeldia (4), Monreal (5), Silva (5), Illarramendi (5), Merino (5), Januzaj (5), Isak (5), Oyarzabal (6).
Subs: Guevara (5), Gorosabel (5), Portu (n/a), Bautista (n/a), Barrenetxea (n/a).
Man Utd: Henderson (7), Wan-Bissaka (6), Bailly (6), Maguire (7), Telles (7), McTominay (6), Fred (8), Greenwood (7), Fernandes (9), James (8), Rashford (8).
Subs: Martial (5), Matic (6), Mata (n/a), Diallo (n/a).
Man of the Match: Bruno Fernandes
United triumph in Turin again
Adnan Januzaj dominated the build-up to the game ahead of his first reunion with Manchester United, and the Belgian nearly haunted the club where it all began inside the opening two minutes with a curled effort which whistled past the angle of post and bar.
That set the tone for a frenetic and entertaining contest, with both sides readily trading blows. United hit back a minute later, with Rashford’s low drive thwarted by the legs of Sociedad goalkeeper Alejandro Remiro.
- Real Sociedad were unchanged from Sunday’s 1-0 victory at Getafe, with David Silva, Adnan Januzaj and Nacho Monreal in the starting line-up.
- Dean Henderson, Eric Bailly, Alex Telles, Daniel James and Mason Greenwood returned as Man Utd made five changes from Sunday’s draw at West Brom.
His opposite number Dean Henderson was called into action a minute later to tip Alexander Isak’s near-post drive around the post, but United emerged from the all-action start with a measure on control and created a host of chances.
A trademark United counter on 19 minutes ended with Fernandes squaring for Rashford, who saw another low drive cannon off the legs of Remiro, before Fernandes’ headed rebound was hacked off the line.
The pressure told shortly before the half-hour mark, with Rashford and Fernandes combining again as the England international’s lofted pass over the top sparked panic in the Sociedad backline.
Centre-backs Robin Le Normand and Igor Zubeldia collided with goalkeeper Remiro while attempting to cut out Rashford’s pass, and Fernandes was on hand to mop up, slotting his 20th goal of the season into the unguarded net.
United were well worth their lead but had to be alert to prevent Sociedad from restoring parity, with Mason Greenwood and Harry Maguire called into last-gasp blocks either side of the interval.
But United’s lethal threat on the counter guided them to a resounding victory, with Fernandes dummying Rashford’s pass to James before wrapping the winger’s return pass into the bottom corner to double the advantage on 57 minutes.
The effort was initially ruled out for offside, but VAR confirmed the goal and United didn’t look back from there with Rashford finally getting on the scoresheet at the third attempt with a composed finish past Remiro after Fred’s perfectly weighted through pass.
James looked to have fired a fourth in off the post soon after, only for it to be ruled out for offside after VAR intervened in Sociedad’s favour, but the Welshman was not to be denied.
After Amad Diallo came on for his Manchester United debut, James completed the rout with a brilliant solo run and finish through the goalkeeper’s legs from a tight angle as United had another night to savour in Turin.
Opta stats – United win away again
- Manchester United are unbeaten in their last nine away games across all competitions (W5 D4), while they have kept a clean sheet in four of their last six.
- Marcus Rashford has scored seven goals in European competition this season for Manchester United – excluding qualifiers, this is the most by an Englishman in a season for the Red Devils since Bobby Charlton scored eight in the 1964-65 Fairs Cup.
- Bruno Fernandes has scored nine goals in all European competitions for Manchester United; since his European debut for the club in February 2020, only Inter Milan’s Romelu Lukaku (11) has netted more across all players in the Europa League/Champions League.
- Since his UEFA Europa League debut in February 2018, Manchester United’s Bruno Fernandes has been involved in more goals in the competition than any other player (24 – 16 goals, 8 assists).
- Daniel James scored his fourth goal of the season for Manchester United (12th appearance), equalling his goal tally across all competitions for the club last term – four goals in 46 games.
- Real Sociedad remain winless in five games against English opponents in European competition (D1 L4) – they have failed to score in each of the last four, with three of those coming against Manchester United.
- Real Sociedad have only won one of their four home games in the UEFA Europa League this season (D1 L2), despite attempting 49 more shots than their opponents across these four games (77 shots for, 28 shots faced).
What the manager said…
Man Utd manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer told BT Sport: “We scored some good goals, played some nice football against a good team. We deserved to win, maybe not 4-0, but on a night like this with the space we had we can be a good team.
“When you don’t have the ball as much you have to defend well, which we did, because they had some terrific players up front. We defended really well and earned the right to counter-attack quickly, and the more the game went on things opened up a lot and we got the space we wanted.
“We feel we are a work in progress, we are learning, the season has been a little inconsistent, with some games we’ve not been able to win lately, but I felt we got the X-factor back today.”
Real Sociedad host Alaves in La Liga on Sunday at 3.15pm and Manchester United host Newcastle in the Premier League on Sunday at 7pm, before United host Sociedad in their Europa League round-of-32 second leg at Old Trafford on Thursday at 8pm.