Alejandro Garnacho scored his first goal for Manchester United, but despite defeating Real Sociedad 1-0, the Red Devils still finished second in their Europa League group, forcing them into a playoff against a Champions League-eligible team.
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In order to surpass the Spanish team at the top of Group E and move on to the last 16 of the Europa League, United needed to defeat them by a score of two in San Sebastian.
Instead, they will play one of the eight groups’ third-place finishers from the Champions League: Ajax, Barcelona, Juventus, Bayer Leverkusen, FC Salzburg, Sevilla, Shakhtar Donetsk, and Sporting CP in a knockout round playoff. For more amazing sports betting websites check out our other sections.
Even though Erik ten Hag’s resurgent team did not achieve their goal, their 18-year-old starlet’s first goal gave fans enough to cheer about. Garnacho, who made his full club debut in last week’s victory over FC Sheriff, was making just his second start for the team when, in the 17th minute at the Reala Stadium, he provided another indication of his potential.
Additionally, it seemed appropriate that Cristiano Ronaldo, who debuted at Old Trafford as a teenager almost two decades ago, before Garnacho was even born, provided the assist.
With a superbly weighted pass, the 37-year-old, who was starting his third straight game, identified Garnacho’s inside-moving run from the left wing. Garnacho received the ball in stride before firmly scoring at the near post into the roof of the goal.
The young man from Argentina got another opportunity not long after, but this time, after being spotted in a similar situation and cutting in on his right foot, he slipped as he fired and sent his attempt way over the bar.
But just as in their 1-0 triumph over West Ham on Sunday in the Premier League, Man United were appreciative of David de Gea for holding onto their advantage.
Shortly before halftime, the Spanish goalkeeper pulled off a remarkable double save, leaping full stretch to stop Pablo Marn’s follow-up header over the crossbar while also getting one hand on a dipping strike from Andoni Gorosabel.
Even though the result favored the home team, they had better scoring opportunities after the break as they kept moving men forward.
Contrarily, the visitors failed to muster a single shot on target in the second half despite needing a goal and even substituting Harry Maguire as a makeshift striker, allowing Real Sociedad to finish first on goal differential and advance to the round of 16 of a European competition for the first time in 20 years.