Man Utd 4-1 Real Betis: Player ratings as Fernandes redemption inspires big win
Manchester United have one foot in the Europa League quarter-finals after a 4-1 victory over Real Betis at Old Trafford on Thursday night, featuring goals of great quality from both teams.
In a perfect response to Sunday’s embarrassing 7-0 defeat, Marcus Rashford gave United an early lead. Ayoze Perez, on loan from Leicester scored a somewhat controversial equaliser, before second half goals from Antony, Bruno Fernandes and Wout Weghorst settled things.
With sleet swirling in Manchester, Weghorst almost gave United an even earlier goal when he chested the ball into the net with only a few minutes on the clock. But Fred, who crossed to the giant Dutchman, was offside when he received it.
Rashford’s excellent strike followed only moments later. It actually started with Betis probing at the other end, but United moved up the field quickly and Rashford had the composure not to snatch at the ball as it fell to him, sidestepping a defender on the floor and then smashing high into the net.
United stayed in control and probably should have doubled the lead when Weghorst fired wide from Luke Shaw’s first-time low cross – it wasn’t seen by the officials, but Betis defender Luiz Felipe got a touch on it to deflect the effort wide. Straight after that, veteran former Manchester City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo raced off his line to stop Rashford having a free run at goal.
Bravo denied Rashford again just under half an hour in as the United striker tried to bend one from the left into the far bottom corner – arguably the pass from Antony was slightly misplaced and made it tough to get enough power on the shot.
The Betis equaliser was their first shot on target, but it was a fine goal. There were strong suspicions of handball from Juanmi, but there was no doubt once he had played it to Perez, who controlled on his chest and struck a sweet half volley into the far bottom corner.
Weghorst and Antony both had further chances before half-time, although had either gone in an offside flag would likely have gone up. But United were living dangerously as a David de Gea gaffe nearly put Betis ahead, passing straight to Juanmi and the ball eventually deflecting onto the post.
The second and third United goals came in quick succession early in the second half. Both were excellent in their own way but very different.
Antony’s go-ahead strike was even better than the one he had scored against Barcelona last time in this competition, cutting in from the right and curling a superb left-footed shot into the top corner from 25 yards. Fernandes, meanwhile, got his from a corner, running to the near post and powering a header past Bravo.
Having played the ball to Antony for his goal, Fernandes was eliminating some of the demons from Anfield, although he could easily have been sent off for a moment of madness when he went flying in on Bravo. The only thing that perhaps saved the United skipper was that contact with the goalkeeper’s shin was with the side of his foot rather than the studs.
Weghorst has become a popular figure with his United teammates. The Dutchman had endured a tough night until his late goal, missing several chances over the course of the first 80 minutes. It was a poacher’s finish, sweeping in a loose ball after substitute Scott McTominay’s shot was saved – the whole chance was engineered by the searing pace of Facundo Pellistri off the bench.
Pellistri tested Bravo with his own chance in stoppage time, but United will still take a three-goal aggregate lead into next week’s second leg in Spain.
GK: David de Gea – 5/10 – Almost gifted Betis a goal on the strole of half-time with another example of alarmingly poor distribution on the ground. Not massively tested.
RB: Diogo Dalot – 4/10 – Subbed at half-time after not a particularly good first half.
CB: Raphael Varane – 6/10 – Will be disappointed not to get a clean sheet but largely in control.
CB: Lisandro Martinez – 7/10 – Excellent in his distribution and won his tackles.
LB: Luke Shaw – 7/10 – A decent night but afforded some rest rest once it was 3-1.
DM: Casemiro – 7/10 – Pulled the strings from deep.
RM: Antony – 8/10 – Plenty involved in creating chances throughout and capped off his night with another excellent Europa League goals, having already done so against Barcelona in the last round.
CM: Fred – 6/10 – Flew under the radar a little compared to his teammates.
CM: Bruno Fernandes (c) – 8/10 – Had a lot to prove after the weekend and was much, much better. Found Antony in space, even if the Brazilian did most of the work for the second goal, and scored a rare header at the near post. Don’t tell Roy Keane it was reminiscent of Juventus in 1999. But arguably very lucky he wasn’t sent off for a reckless challenge on Bravo later on.
LM: Marcus Rashford – 8/10 – Looked to be using the anger from the Liverpool game to fuel his performance here. Got a 26th goal of the season.
ST: Wout Weghorst – 6/10 – Worked extremely hard without much success for 80 minutes, but persistence finally paid off late on.
SUB: Aaron Wan-Bissaka (46′ for Dalot) – 6/10
SUB: Jadon Sancho (65′ for Rashford) – 6/10
SUB: Tyrell Malacia (65′ for Shaw) – 6/10
SUB: Facundo Pellistri (82′ for Antony) – 7/10
SUB: Scott McTominay (82′ for Fred) – 6/10
Erik ten Hag – 8/10 – Surprisingly stuck with the same XI that started against Liverpool, but it proved to be the right call and then he could rest and rotate later on.
Player of the match – Bruno Fernandes (Man Utd)
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Arsenal pre-season 2023/24: Fixtures and schedule
Having reached new heights in the Premier League in 2022/23, Arsenal will soon be beginning their preparations for the new campaign with a pre-season tour to get ready for 2023/24.
Preparations for last season took place in Germany for Arsenal but with the Covid-19 pandemic a bit more of a distant memory for many, it is expected that more teams will be heading further afield again to either the United States of America or Asia.
Arsenal are yet to announce a full training camp location for their pre-season but they do have one fixture already confirmed which drops a big clue.
The Gunners are going to be coming up against an MLS All-Star team in Washington D.C. which will be coached by Manchester United and England legend Wayne Rooney. That takes place on July 19 and it is hard to imagine that Arsenal will only play one game in America.
A semi-regular fixture of Arsenal’s pre-seasons in recent years has been the Emirates Cup, but there has not been any word on whether an edition of that will be taking place or not this summer. If there is, then Arsenal could be splitting their time between America and London.
All times BST.
As is the case for almost every big club in football now, all of Arsenal’s pre-season friendlies are expected to be televised live on Arsenal.com and their official app with a subscription.
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