Manchester United took a big step towards the Europa League quarter-finals with a 4-1 victory over Real Betis at Old Trafford on Thursday night. Both teams produced goals of high quality, making for an entertaining match.Marcus Rashford got United off to a great start, responding perfectly to their embarrassing 7-0 defeat last Sunday. Ayoze Perez, on loan from Leicester, scored Betis’ equalizer in a somewhat controversial fashion. However, second half goals from Antony, Bruno Fernandes, and Wout Weghorst sealed the victory for United.
In the early minutes of the game, Weghorst almost gave United the lead, chesting the ball into the net, but it was disallowed due to Fred’s offside position when he received the ball. Rashford’s excellent strike followed only moments later, showing great composure and skill to sidestep a defender on the floor before smashing the ball high into the net.United stayed in control, and Weghorst missed a chance to double their lead from Luke Shaw’s low cross. Betis’ keeper, Claudio Bravo, denied Rashford twice before the visitors’ equalizer, which was their first shot on target.
There were suspicions of handball from Juanmi in the build-up, but Perez’s controlled chest and sweet half volley into the far bottom corner were undeniable.Weghorst and Antony both had further chances before half-time, but United were living dangerously as a David de Gea mistake almost gifted Betis the lead. The second half saw two excellent goals in quick succession from Antony and Fernandes, the former cutting in from the right and curling a left-footed shot into the top corner, and the latter scoring a powerful header from a corner.
Weghorst, who had missed several chances earlier, finally got on the scoresheet with a poacher’s finish, sweeping in a loose ball after substitute Scott McTominay’s shot was saved. The chance was engineered by the searing pace of Facundo Pellistri off the bench, who also tested Bravo with his own chance in stoppage time.Overall, United will be pleased with their performance, taking a three-goal aggregate lead into next week’s second leg in Spain.