Rashford makes Man Utd into Europa League quarter-finals again
SEVILLE, Spain – Manchester United are through to the Europa League quarter-finals after beating Real Betis 1-0 on Thursday night to seal a 5-1 aggregate win. Erik ten Hag’s side built on their 4-1 win in last week’s first leg at Old Trafford thanks to a stunning Marcus Rashford strike to secure their place in Friday’s final eight draw.
United navigated early under pressure from Real Betis before another second-half goal from Rashford put the tie beyond doubt. Ten Hag will also have Bruno Fernandes and Casemiro available for the next round after the pair avoided picking up a booking that would have ruled them out of next month’s quarter-final first leg.
1. Rashford does it again for Man United
The match had developed into a relatively even contest before Rashford picked up the ball 25 yards from Rui Silva’s goal in the 56th minute.
He had just missed a golden opportunity when his shot sailed over the bar and into the second row, but his confidence remained high enough for the United striker to try his luck. His shot – almost a nonchalant knuckle ball – dived away from Silva’s outstretched hand and crawled into the far post and just like that the tie was over.
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– Europa League knockout round draw: full details
It was Rashford’s 27th goal – already his most prolific campaign – and he’s in the form that makes anything possible for United. It’s not often that a striker likes a purple stain enough to conjure something out of thin air but that’s exactly what Rashford did against Real Betis. It’s a good skill when the business end of the season arrives and tight games are decided by the slightest difference. It said everything about Rashford’s importance to this team that the ball had barely settled in the net when Ten Hag urged him to break free – with another big game against Fulham coming up in the FA Cup quarter-finals on Sunday.
2. Real Betis misses the chance to make United nervous
They knew they were fighting back after the 4-1 defeat in Manchester but during a frantic 10-minute opening here, Betis had chances to put pressure on United. Former Southampton striker Juanmi passed Harry Maguire but rolled his shot wide of the far post when it should have hit the target. Then the 41-year-old Joaquin just hit the post.
By this point the Estadio Benito Villamarin was a smashing success and United rocked but Ten Hag’s side regained some control midway through the first half and went 0-0 at the break. If Real Betis had scored early the hostile atmosphere in the stadium would have exploded and United might have struggled but instead it was a professional job away from home in Europe and they are ready for Friday’s quarter-final draw.
Manuel Pellegrini’s side have to regret a poor second half at Old Trafford as they conceded three times, but there are still prospects of advancing to next season’s Champions League when the La Liga season resumes against Mallorca at the weekend.
3. Pellistri makes his fall on full debut
Facundo Pellistri had to wait 893 days between his signing with United and his first start. In between, the winger played in an EFL Trophy game for the Under-21s in front of a few thousand fans at Barrow and started for Uruguay at the World Cup in Qatar, but finally he can say he has started a competitive game for United. He deserved his chance off the bench after some impressive guest appearances and with Alejandro Garnarcho out until May with an ankle ligament injury, the 21-year-old could have more chances.
He was involved here after just 20 seconds when he was released down the right to cross for Wout Weghorst – his 17th consecutive start since arriving in January – and offered a good finish for most of the night. Right footed and playing on the right flank, he’s a different option to Antony – who has stayed home due to illness – because the Brazilian always wants to cut inside with his stronger left foot and he did enough against Real Betis to point to that to point out that he deserved more minutes in the run-in, especially with Ten Hag’s growing injury list.
Best and worst performers
BEST: Marcus Rashford, Manchester United. Missed a sitter and batted one in from 25 yards a minute later to continue his impressive form.
BEST: Joaquin, Real Betis. Even at 41, he was at the heart of Real Betis’ rapid start that nearly resulted in an early goal.
BEST: Facundo Pellistri, Manchester United. Didn’t look out of place on his full debut and helped stretch the game.
Worst: Ayoze Perez, Real Betis. Scored at Old Trafford but was kept quiet here by United defense.
WORST: Wout Weghorst, Manchester United. The tall Dutchman works hard but rarely looks dangerous.
WORST: Juanmi, Real Betis. He looked sharp in the first half but he really needed to take one of his chances in the first half to give Real Betis hopes of a famous comeback.
Highlights and notable moments
That’s something special from Rashford. According to ESPN Stats & Information, that goal was come from a distance of 28 yards, the longest shot Rashford has recorded for United since October 30, 2019.
AN UNREAL STRIKE BY MARCUS RASHFORD. 🔥 pic.twitter.com/KvWStuTYa5
— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) March 16, 2023
After the game: What the players/coaches said
Maguire: “It was two good games over two legs, Betis are a good team. They’re fifth in LaLiga, they’re doing well this season so we knew it wasn’t going to be an easy draw.”
Ten Witch: “I think we were much better on the ball in the second half. If you keep the ball in the opposition half, get them going, you see that you’re taking chances.”
Key Statistics (provided by ESPN Stats & Information Research)
– Joaquin’s 395th career start for Betis links Gordillo to the third-most in club history in all competitions.
– Rashford’s goal was his fourth from outside the box this season. He had four such goals between the 2019-20 and 2021-22 seasons.
– Rashford now has 27 goals in all competitions. Only Erling Haaland (39) and Kylian Mbappe (31) have more among players from Europe’s Big Five leagues.
Real Betis: Betis will remain in the comfort of Benito Villarmin on Sunday as they take on Mallorca in LaLiga (9 p.m. ET, livestream on ESPN+).
Manchester United: The Red Devils return to Old Trafford in Sunday’s FA Cup quarter-final against Fulham (12 p.m. ET, live stream on ESPN+).
https://www.espn.com/soccer/uefa-europa-league/story/4902345/rashford-does-it-again-man-utd-into-europa-league-quarters Rashford makes Man Utd into Europa League quarter-finals again