Manchester United secured a place in the quarterfinals of the Europa League after defeating Real Betis in Spain on Thursday. Despite having a comfortable 4-1 lead from the first leg, United did not take their foot off the gas, winning 1-0 on the night and 5-1 on aggregate. The result was particularly impressive given that United had a few notable absentees, including Antony, who was ill, and Alejandro Garnacho, who was sidelined due to an ankle injury.
In the absence of some of their key players, United manager Erik ten Hag decided to give Facundo Pellistri his first senior start. The 21-year-old Uruguayan did not disappoint, playing a crucial role in United’s victory. Ten Hag also opted to pick Pellistri over Jadon Sancho, who cost the club $100 million.
Betis started the game on the front foot and had several chances to score in the opening minutes. Juanmi came close to putting the hosts ahead, but his shot went just wide of the post. Joaquin also hit the post with a long-range shot that David de Gea could not reach. Despite Betis having the better chances, the first half ended scoreless. Pellistri almost broke the deadlock just before the break when he hit the post with a shot that Wout Weghorst could not quite guide into the net.
United came out firing in the second half, with Marcus Rashford scoring a stunning goal from distance to put the visitors ahead in the 56th minute. Rashford’s strike essentially ended any hopes of a Betis comeback, and he also became the youngest United player to reach 25 major European goals. Ten Hag then made some changes to his team, replacing Rashford, Bruno Fernandes, Fred, and Lisandro Martinez, who could all use some rest ahead of the team’s upcoming fixtures.
Despite only scoring one goal in the second leg, United held Betis in check and prevented the hosts from creating many chances. The result means that United now head to the quarterfinals of the Europa League, and they will learn their opponent on Friday morning. The victory was a significant achievement for United, given the team’s injury problems and the fact that Betis had been in good form recently. United will now look to continue their Europa League campaign and hope to lift the trophy at the end of the season.