Real Sociedad-Manchester United ratings: Fernandes, Rashford push Red Devils to brink of Europa League last 16

Manchester United all but secured their place in the Europa League round of 16 as Bruno Fernandes scored two in an outstanding 4-0 win over Real Sociedad in Turin on Thursday. After Marcus Rashford spurned two promising early chances the United No. 10 turned provider with an excellent ball over the top for Fernandes to chase down and tap home after Real defenders collided with their goalkeeper Alejandro Remiro. That duo combined again in the second half with a helping hand from Daniel James to hand the nominal visitors a two goal lead just before the hour.

As La Real, the nominal home team with COVID-19 regulations forcing them to play the game at the Juventus Stadium, chased the goal they needed to get back into the tie they left themselves ever more vulnerable to United’s explosive counters with Rashford finding the net at last and the impressive James striking through Remiro’s legs in the 90th minute to put their side in the most imposing of positions ahead of next week’s second leg. Here’s how the individual players fared:

Real Sociedad ratings

Alejandro Remiro: For all that the focus would be on Rashford for his two missed chances early on it should be said that the goalkeeper did well, particularly for the second where he made himself just about big enough to block the shot with his feet. He let himself down with Fernandes’ opener, chasing a ball that his two center-backs seemed able to deal with. A torrid night ended with James driving through his legs. Rating: 3

Joseba Zaldua: For all the threat that came down his flank, Zaldua did not hesitate to bomb on. He also won more tackles than anyone on his team during his time in the game. Perhaps then it was no wonder his hamstring seemed to give way after 70 grueling minutes. Rating: 5

Robin Le Normand: An impressive block on the line when Fernandes tried to pounce on the rebound for Rashford’s second miss aside but that aside he struggled with the interplay of United’s frontline. Rating: 4

Igor Zubeldia: Crumbled all too easily when Rashford ran beyond him early in the match, setting the stage for a disappointing performance by the young defensive midfielder in a center-back role. Rating: 3

Nacho Monreal: Those who remember Monreal from his time at Arsenal would not have been surprised by what they saw, a player who was largely solid in defense — albeit with a few sly tackles — and not afraid of bombing on in attack even as his 35th birthday approaches. He was perhaps fortunate that most of United’s pressure came down the opposite flank until he was roasted by James late on. Rating: 4

Asier Illaramendi: That there were so many angles and pockets of space for United to slip the ball into must in some part be laid at the door of the holding midfielders, including Illaramendi. His passing was neat enough but lacked any real incision. Rating: 4

Mikel Merino: The game rather passed the former Newcastle man by, aside from keeping the ball he seemed to offer very little to swing this tie in his team’s favor. Rating: 4

Adnan Januzaj: Evidently determined to remind his former club what they were missing, Januzaj’s commitment to leaving a mark on this fixture seemed to be a blessing and a curse. A wonderful early shot curled wide but there were occasions you sensed he was prepared to chase that glorious moment rather than stick to the simple moments. Rating: 4

David Silva: Against his one-time rivals the Manchester City legend could not quite get on the ball often enough to dictate the game. There were flashes, particularly late in the first half, where the schemer of old emerged but for the most part this was a frustrating match for Silva. Rating: 4

Mikel Oyarzabal: For all the excitement about what he might offer against United, Oyarzabal largely struggled to get into the game. His stats say it all: no successful crosses, no successful take ons, no chances created. Rating: 3

Alexander Isak: The movement was impressive early in the first half but the service did not come with the Swede managing only 12 touches of the ball in the final third across the first two-thirds of the contest. Rating: 4

Manager – Imanol Alguacil: A tough night for Alguacil and his side and one where their manager took far too long to react to the opportunities their high line was providing United on the counter. Rating: 4

Manchester United ratings

Dean Henderson: After saving well from Isak early on Henderson might have feared a grueling night but he did not face another shot of note all night. Rating: 5

Aaron Wan-Bissaka: An early yellow card for a woeful foul on Nacho Monreal curtailed Wan-Bissaka’s effectiveness throughout this contest but he still performed rather impressively to quell the threat of Oyarzabal. Rating: 6

Eric Bailly: At times he seemed to be struggling with the movement of Isak and the rest of the ‘home’ team’s frontline but he did not make any mistakes against such a dangerous attack. Rating: 6

Harry Maguire: He has a worrying habit of dropping back from free-kicks before the ball has been delivered, playing onside his opponents, but on the ball he managed to push United up the field impressively with his range of passing. Rating: 6

Alex Telles: A brilliant low cross for Rashford merited an assist on a relatively quiet night for the reserve left-back, who seemed to be hampered by injury in the second half. Rating: 6

Scott McTominay: As is his wont, McTominay’s game was all about verticality and a positive run in behind on the 15th minute led to a promising chance for the midfielder. In his hour on the pitch he led his side with five ball recoveries, two more than anyone else. Rating: 7

Fred: In possession he ensured quick ball for United’s front four on the counter — most notably with his assist for Rashford — whilst when Sociedad were in control he stuck closely to Silva and hit his challenges aggressively. Rating: 8

Daniel James: In only his second start of the year it was natural that James would take a while to really make an impact on this contest but when he did get into the game he impressed, particularly in his pressing of La Real’s midfield. His interplay with Fernandes for United’s second and low drive late on were impressive indeed. He deserves the further opportunities this competition might provide. Rating: 8

Bruno Fernandes: Fernandes did what Fernandes does, providing a crucial goal with a moment of impressive composure as he let the ball run beyond him and Remiro before rolling the ball into the net. That seemed to give him an extra burst of energy, he was scheming across the frontline looking to interchange or double up with team-mates until his superb second goal, where he let the ball run into James’ path before taking the ball and driving low. Rating: 9

Marcus Rashford: He ought to have done better with two excellent early chances but then he created a wonderful chance for Fernandes with a wonderful ball over the top. His contribution to the second was nearly as good, a pass perfectly judged in behind, whilst his eventual goal ought to disprove any suggestion that Rashford is not a good finisher. Rating: 8

Mason Greenwood: His outstanding contribution of the first half was in his own penalty area where he denied Monreal what looked to be a clear scoring chance. Although this was a game where he struggled to make a mark in the attack he was constantly making the right support run. Rating: 6

Nemanja Matic (sub, McTominay, 60′): The ideal task for the Serbian, who sat in front of the defense to quell any threat of a comeback. Rating: 6

Manager – Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: The Norwegian set his side up impressively to punish Real Sociedad on the counter even whilst bringing in fringe players such as James and Telles. He can afford to introduce plenty more in a week’s time. Rating: 8

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