MANCHESTER, England — Manchester United opened their Europa League campaign unfavorably, falling 1-0 to Real Sociedad at Old Trafford. A goal from Brais Méndez was the difference, because Erik ten Hag’s side was unable to react.
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For Sociedad, the win was the first against an English team in a competitive match. Here’s ESPN’s Rob Dawson with response and analysis.
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1. Manchester United’s Europa League campaign starts with a defeat
Erik ten Hag insisted at his press conference on Wednesday that he would take the Europa League seriously, but despite the Dutchman choosing a strong team including Cristiano Ronaldo, Harry Maguire, David De Gea, Christian Eriksen and Antony, Real Socieded left Old Trafford with three points. Man United finished the evening with more shots and more possession than the Spanish side, but goalkeeper Alejandro Remiro was never forced into anything more than a routine save.
It’s not the end of the world for Ten Hag and he still expects to do enough in the next five group matches to advance to the next round, but the result will continue the momentum built after four Premier League wins in a row shut down.
Besides a disappointing evening for Ten Hag, the defeat will not do his players in the selection any favors. Ronaldo, Maguire, Fred, Casemiro, Victor Lindelof and Anthony Elanga were all brought into the team after seeing the winning run from the bench but none did enough to suggest they keep their place for the next game in the league .
2. Cristiano Ronaldo frustrated in his return
Ten Hag chose a strong team to kick off the Europa League group stage, but made a number of changes, including handing a recall to Ronaldo. The 37-year-old hoped a summer move would mean he’d play Champions League football elsewhere this season, but instead made his first career appearance in the Europa League and didn’t look like he would be able to make it to the next level. enjoyed experience.
(Ronaldo did play in the UEFA Cup two decades ago, the predecessor to the European Cup, which was a slightly different format under a different name. Ronaldo’s Sporting CP squad lost to Partizan in the first round on a 6-4 aggregate.)
But to score this season, a first-half goal was disallowed for offside and he saw a few more half-chances extinguished by a dogged defense from Real Sociedad. He also took on some tough challenges in the second half and seemed to have some discomfort towards the end.
The advantage for Ronaldo is that after missing almost the entire pre-season, he had 90 minutes in his legs, but it wasn’t a feat that suggested he will be back in the team for a Premier League game any time soon.
For now, he may have to wait for his chance in the Europa League and hope he can score again soon and force Ten Hag to bring him back for matches in the league. In the meantime, he will probably have to settle for his role as an impact substitute.
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3. Real Sociedad brave on the big stage
Real Sociedad have had a mixed start to the LaLiga season with two wins from their first four games, but on the eve of their visit to Old Trafford, coach Imanol Alguacil promised his team would not be shy about attacking Man United. .
“We’re going for the opponents,” Alguacil said at a press conference. “We are going to show personality and take the initiative.”
He will be pleased with the way his players have carried out his instructions. Despite Real Sociedad coming up against a strong United team – perhaps stronger than they expected – Real Sociedad had a lot of possession, especially in the first half, and while they didn’t create many clear chances, they did enough to take the win. game.
Led by former Manchester City midfielder David Silva, they were brave on the ball, trying to pass out from behind when given the chance, even under pressure from the United press. There is still a long way to go but after the win at Old Trafford they will be eyeing first in the group to get a better draw in the knockout rounds.
Manchester United: De Gea 6, Dalot 7, Malacia 7, Lindelof 6, Maguire 6, Casemiro 7, Fred 5, Eriksen 7, Elanga 5, Antony 5, Ronaldo 5.
Subscribers: Fernandes 6, Martinez 6, Sancho 6, Garnacho 6, McNeill 6.
Real Society: Remiro 6, Gorosabel 6, Munoz 7, Elustondo 7, Pacheco 7, Mendez 7, Zubimendi 7, Merino 7, Kubo 7, Silva 7, Umar 7.
Subscribers: Sorloth 6, Cho 6, Barrenetxea 6, Turrientes 6, Sola 6.
Best and worst artists
BEST: Christian Eriksen
It was a surprise that Eriken started and it seemed pre-planned that he would come out at half time, but it seemed United needed him in the second half.
The Brazilian started in an unknown position as the number 10 in Ten Hag’s system and in the first half Fred could hardly find another red shirt with a pass.
Highlights and notable moments
After the death of Queen Elizabeth II, the players wore black armbands and a moment of silence was observed at Old Trafford before kick-off.
“A minute’s silence will be observed before kick-off so that the teams, match officials and all present can pay their respects to Her Majesty the Queen,” said a statement from Manchester United.
Britain’s longest-reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, died Thursday at the age of 96 after reigning for 70 years.
Manchester United and Real Sociedad pay their respects to Her Majesty the Queen, who passed away today at the age of 96. pic.twitter.com/ALUcciB6hp
— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) September 8, 2022
What would a game be today without a bit of VAR drama?
In the second half, a shot by David Silva hit the leg and then the arm of Lisandro Martínez. The on-field referee, Marco Di Bello, called it a foul and a penalty, and a VAR check agreed with the decision, resulting in a penalty from Brais Méndez giving Sociedad the lead.
The VAR called this a penalty for Real Sociedad.
Do you agree with the decision? pic.twitter.com/qQ6WjST0SI
— CBS Sports Golazo ⚽️ (@CBSSportsGolazo) September 8, 2022
After the game: what the managers, players said
Manchester United have canceled their post-match press conference in light of the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
Key Stats (provided by ESPN Stats & Information)
This was Cristiano Ronaldo’s first appearance in the Europa League. He did compete in the competition’s predecessor, the UEFA Cup, in 2002. His side of Sporting CP lost to Partizan in the first round on a 6-4 aggregate.
Ronaldo has scored in every competition he has played in more than once, except the Europa League/UEFA Cup. This is the third time he has been held scoreless in a Europa League/UEFA Cup match and his team has never won a game in the competition (0-2-1 WLD).
Manchester United: The Red Devils return to Premier League action when they travel to Crystal Palace at 11:30 a.m. ET on Sunday.
Real Society: Los Txuri Urdin return to LaLiga action when they visit Getafe on Sundays at 12:30 p.m. ET.