Real Sociedad v Manchester United Live Commentary & Result, 18/02/2021, UEFA Europa League


That’s it from me here tonight. Until the next time, goodbye!

The return leg is a week today, at Old Trafford on February 25. United follow that game with Premier League matches away to Chelsea and Man City, so the Sociedad game is a good chance to rest and rotate with the tie surely done and dusted.

What a win for Manchester United! They surely seal their passage to the last 16 at the first time of asking, with four away goals to no reply. They could have been out of sight in the first half as Rashford and McTominay missed good chances, but led at the break as Fernandes capitalised on a defensive error. He got his second after the interval after a neat bit of play with Rashford and James, confirmed by VAR after the linesman had initially flagged it offside. Rashford got himself a goal on the counter soon after before James put Solskjaer’s side out of reach with a composed finish in the dying moments. Sociedad were a long way from their best, but United won’t care one bit. 

90′ + 6′ FULL-TIME: REAL SOCIEDAD 0-4 MANCHESTER UNITED

90′ + 4′ Portu thinks he’s won a corner off Maguire on the right, but the flag is up for offside.

90′ + 3′ Diallo gets the ball for the first time in a dangerous position but he can’t shimmy his way around his marker at the left corner of the penalty area.

90′ + 1′ Five minutes of stoppage time.

Manchester United

90′ Bailly gets the assist for a simple pass out to the wing.

Manchester United

90′ GOAL! 4-0, James finishes the tie off! Bailly finds him on the right and he drives infield, ignores two team-mates in the area and finishes calmly, squeezing it through Remiro’s legs. Good finish.

R. Le Normand

Yellow Card

Real Sociedad

88′ Le Normand gets a late yellow card for taking James out on the counter. He’ll be suspended for the return leg.

Jon Bautista

Mikel Oyarzabal

Real Sociedad

86′ Oyarzabal is replaced by Bautista. He wasn’t anywhere near his best tonight.

86′ Monreal crosses from the left. Maguire heads clear but it drops to Gorosabel, who shoots wide. The whistle goes for a foul somewhere anyway.

84′ Portu loops in a cross from the right and Barrenetxea tries to flick a header towards goal, but he can’t get any pace on it and it drops simply into Henderson’s gloves.

Manchester United

83′ And here comes Amad Diallo, the 18-year-old making his Manchester United debut. Greenwood the man to go off.

Manchester United

83′ And now Fernandes is done for the night, replaced by Mata.

82′ Martial finds Greenwood at the left side of the penalty area. He goes left, then right, then shoots right-footed into the side-netting. Fernandes is annoyed he didn’t pick him out.

81′ That deserved better. Greenwood picks out Fernandes with an absolutely perfect first-time pass on the turn. He knocks it on to James who drives into the box down the right channel, but can’t beat Remiro.

Real Sociedad

80′ Barrenetxea comes on for Isak. The striker threatened a couple of times in the first half but had to do most of his chance creation for himself.

Real Sociedad

80′ Portu is on for Januzaj, who hasn’t had a great game against his former side.

78′ Rashford has seven goals in Europe this season. Excluding qualifiers, that’s the most by an English player for United since Bobby Charlton got eight in 1964-65.

76′ Will Shoretire or Diallo get a chance to impress off the bench tonight? It seems as good a chance as any, particularly for Diallo if United are looking to manage Greenwood’s playing time.

Real Sociedad

74′ Illarramendi is off too, replaced by Guevara.

Real Sociedad

73′ Double change for Sociedad. First, Gorosabel comes on for Zaldua, who has injured his hamstring.

73′ Greenwood skips past Illarramendi at the edge of the area and goes for the goal at the near post. It’s going wide anyway but Remiro touches it behind for a corner.

72′ United have slowed the pace a little now. They’re camped in the Sociedad half but not taking any chances on the counter. 

70′ Maguire meets the corner with a strong header but the referee spots a foul from Greenwood as Remiro pushes it away.

69′ There’s a problem for Sociedad here. Zaldua has gone to the turf holding his right hamstring. It doesn’t look like he’ll be carrying on, and United have a corner on the left. 

Manchester United

68′ Rashford’s night is done. He might have scored more, but he got his goal in the end and created the opener for Fernandes. Martial comes on.

68′ GOOA-no! United think they have a fourth as Greenwood races clear down the left and squares for James to side-foot home, but Greenwood was just offside in the buildup. The linesman’s flag was straight up, and VAR says he got it right.

66′ It would be easy to write this off as ‘just the Europa League’, but this is looking like an impressive result for United. Sociedad haven’t really turned up tonight but they’re not a bad team at all.

Manchester United

64′ Fred gets the assist, a perfectly judged through ball from him.

Manchester United

64′ 3-0! Rashford! United might be out of sight! It’s a lightning-fast counter from Solskjaer’s side. Henderson claims a high cross and lobs it out to Fred, who slips Rashford through on goal. Zubeldia is tracking him all the way but he can’t keep up, and Rashford slips it past Remiro and into the bottom-right corner.

62′ Sociedad need a goal tonight. Two away goals puts United at a huge advantage going into the second leg, especially given their home leg is actually at home.

Manchester United

60′ United make the first change of the night. McTominay is replaced by Matic in midfield.

59′ Since making his Europa League debut in February 2018, Fernandes has been involved in 24 goals (16 goals, 8 assists). That’s more than any other player in the competition.

Manchester United

57′ James gets the assist but it’s yet another moment of brilliance from Fernandes.

Manchester United

57′ GOOOOAAL! Fernandes has his second after a VAR review! Rashford slips a pass through to Fernandes at the edge of the area and he dummies it cleverly before taking it off James’ toe and bending it into the bottom-right corner. The linesman’s flag goes straight up, but the goal is given as Fernandes had come from behind James to collect the ball.

55′ Telles still looks a little uncomfortable but he’s going to try and run it off. Rashford tees up Bailly from 30 yards, and he blazes his shot just as far high and wide as you would expect.

54′ Telles is down holding his lower back. Shaw is warming up on the touchline.

53′ Monreal fires in a low pass from the left to Silva on the penalty spot, but it’s just behind the former Man City man and he can’t wrap his boot back around it to turn it goalwards.

52′ Telles whips in the free-kick but Le Normand gets his head to it and Januzaj completes the clearance.

51′ Fernandes hoiks a high pass from left to right, looking to give James something to chase. Chase it he does, but Monreal bundles him over from behind and United get a free-kick, about 25 yards out on the right.

49′ Oyarzabal puts in a dangerous-looking cross for Isak and Maguire does well to hook it away at the edge of the six-yard box. Moments later, Merino tries to pick out Silva in space in the area but it’s over his head.

47′ A loose ball bounces up nicely for Le Normand in midfield. It’s absolutely miles out but he hits it like a rocket on the half-volley. Luckily for Henderson, it’s straight at him and a simple save.

46′ United had five shots on target in the first half. Four of them were either taken by Fernandes or assisted by Fernandes. He is the absolute beating heart of this team.

45′ We’re back underway for the second half.

In a way, it’s Sociedad boss Imanol who might be more optimistic going into the second half. His side have been nowhere near their best, so there’s plenty of scope for them to improve, while United failed to put the game out of sight when they had the chances to do so.

Manchester United go in with a slender advantage and an away goal after a thoroughly enjoyable half of football. Rashford and McTominay both had big chances for United early on before Fernandes capitalised on a mix-up between Remiro and Le Normand to stick the ball into an empty net midway through the half. Januzaj and Isak had chances in the opening exchanges but United took charge of the half and should probably have scored more than one. Sociedad have improved in the last 10 minutes or so, so this game is far from over.

45′ + 1′ HALF-TIME: REAL SOCIEDAD 0-1 MANCHESTER UNITED

45′ Every United fan in the world holds their breath for a moment as Fernandes hobbles away from an innocuous-looking challenge. On second viewing, he’s just had his foot trodden on, and there’s no lasting damage.

43′ Oyarzabal is fouled by Bailly as he looks to launch a counter-attack following a United corner. Merino and Silva are the men who end up getting a ticking-off for complaining to the referee about it, but there’s no card.

41′ Sociedad are growing into the game now, looking more confident on the ball and showing more purpose with their passing.

40′ Zaldua crosses from the right, looking for Oyarzabal at the edge of the area, but he’s crowded out by United’s centre-backs.

39′ Bailly makes a great goalline clearance after Monreal heads the ball out of Henderson’s gloves, but the referee blows up for a foul on the keeper anyway.

38′ Oyarzabal slips Isak in at the right side of the area. The forward drills in a low cross and Greenwood finds himself in unfamiliar territory, desperately clearing away with Monreal ready to pounce. He just does enough, shanking his clearance out of play for a goal kick.

36′ Sociedad are struggling to stamp their authority on the game when they have the ball, which is unusual for a team with so much creative talent. Oyarzabal and Silva have only completed 20 passes between them in the first 35 minutes.

34′ Oyarzabal holds onto the ball really well as he cuts in from the right and carries it along the edge of the area. Nobody can get a foot in before he slips the ball over to Januzaj in space on the left, but he spanks his cross straight out of play for a goal kick. 

33′ Since his United debut in February last year, Fernandes has scored eight goals in Europe. In the same timeframe, only Inter’s Romelu Lukaku has scored more (11).

31′ Telles swings a deep free-kick on the left over towards Maguire at the far side of the area, but Illarramendi gets ahead of him to nod it behind. Telles delivers the corner too, but it’s headed away by Merino.

30′ The goal was an unfortunate one for Sociedad to concede, but they are good value for their lead. Rashford in particular has had some big chances.

28′ And of course, it’s not just a goal – it’s an away goal. Sociedad are as far away from home as United are, but still.

Manchester United

27′ GOAL! United lead 1-0, of course it’s Fernandes! Rashford picks up the ball on the left and scoops a ball over the top for Fernandes. Remiro, who has been excellent, comes out to claim the ball but he’s wiped out by his own team-mate as Le Normand tries to hoof it clear. Both end up on the floor, and Fernandes is able to side-foot home into an empty net.

26′ Remiro comes way out of his area to intercept a ball in behind intended for Rashford. The keeper takes a big touch but nobody closes him down, and he’s able to look up and pick out a cross-field pass to Oyarzabal from only a couple of yards off the halfway line. 

24′ Isak turns nicely away from Bailly in midfield and charges towards goal. He does well to hold off two defenders as he dribbles but eventually Maguire does put a good challenge in.

24′ Fernandes crosses from the right corner of the penalty area. It looks to be an easy clearance for Zaldua at the far post but he misses the ball, and he’s lucky Rashford doesn’t react to the chance in time. It bounces off him and Sociedad clear.

23′ Fred and Oyarzabal both go for a high ball and both kick each other in the foot, but the free-kick goes Sociedad’s way. Januzaj takes it from deep on the left but gets his delivery all wrong, bending it out for a throw-in on the far side.

21′ This has been an excellent first 20 minutes of football. There have been five big chances – United have had the best of them but Sociedad look threatening when they get into the final third.

19′ Another big chance for United! Rashford should probably score as he’s played in behind by Telles, but again Remiro makes a big save with his legs. The rebound comes to Fernandes and he looks to nod it in, but Le Normand clears it off the line. 

18′ Le Normand lumps a ball forward for Monreal to chase. Bailly goes for it but Henderson lets out one of the most impressive bellows of ‘MINE!’ you’ll hear all season, and the defender lets it bounce through. 

16′ Close for McTominay! Fernandes flicks the ball round the corner in a busy midfield area and sets McTominay away down the right channel. He bursts through the last line of defence and drives in towards goal, but slightly mis-hits his finish and Remiro is able to save with his legs. United should have a corner moments later as Fernandes knocks it behind off a defender, but the touch isn’t seen and Sociedad regroup with a goal kick.

15′ Isak wins a corner for Sociedad on the left. It isn’t immediately cleared but Maguire eventually puts his foot through it before an attacker can seize on the stationary ball.

13′ Rashford carries the ball brilliantly down the left channel, skimming one man in midfield and finding Greenwood out on the left flank. He looks to cross for Fernandes as he arrives into the penalty area but Monreal makes a firm defensive header.

12′ Sociedad almost have a three-on-one against Maguire but Bailly just gets across to intercept Isak’s pass on the halfway line. 

10′ Sociedad have lost four of their last five knockout games in major UEFA competitions, last winning one against Atletico Madrid in 1998-99. United, meanwhile, have only lost one of their last 16 knockout games in the Europa League – last season’s semi-final defeat to Sevilla.

A. Wan-Bissaka

Yellow Card

Manchester United

8′ Wan-Bissaka gets the first yellow card of the night for a bad tackle from behind on Monreal. Absolutely nowhere near the ball.

6′ Monreal tackles James well in the United right-back position. Fernandes hurries to the ball to try and take the throw-in but could hardly look more guilty as he does so, referee Sandro Scharer immediately pulling it back and giving the throw to Sociedad. 

5′ This is shaping up to be a very entertaining match. Both teams look much more up to speed on the ball than they are off it. 

3′ More chances, this could be 2-1 already! Rashford is released in behind but can’t get the ball past Remiro as the goalkeeper comes out to smother, and Sociedad go straight back up the other end and force a corner as Henderson makes a low save to deny Isak from close range.

2′ An early chance for Sociedad! Isak seizes on an error from Bailly on midfield and drives towards goal before knocking the ball to Januzaj to his right. He cuts onto his left foot and bends a shot towards the far top corner, and it’s only just wide.

2′ Greenwood seems to be the man starting through the middle for United. Rashford has started out on the left, with James on the right.

These sides have only met twice before, in the group stage of the 2013/14 Champions League. United won 1-0 at Old Trafford, with a goalless draw in Spain.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has named a strong team, with Edinson Cavani and Donny van de Beek among those missing through injury. James and Telles come in on the left and Henderson replaces De Gea in goal.

Sociedad manager Imanol Alguacil names an unchanged side from their last game, a 1-0 away win at Getafe. That means ex-United man Januzaj, ex-City man Silva and ex-Arsenal man Monreal, who will surely each have extra motivation for this fixture, all start.

SUBS: David de Gea, Anthony Martial, Juan Mata, Luke Shaw, Victor Lindelof, Nemanja Matic, Brandon Williams, Amad Diallo, Shola Shoretire, Axel Tuanzebe, Lee Grant.

MANCHESTER UNITED (4-2-3-1): Dean Henderson; Alex Telles, Harry Maguire, Eric Bailly, Aaron Wan-Bissaka; Fred, Scott McTominay; Daniel James, Bruno Fernandes, Mason Greenwood; Marcus Rashford.

SUBS: Portu, Jon Guridi, Ander Guevara, Jon Bautista, Ander Barrenetxea, Unai Marrero, Martin Zubimendi, Martin Merquelanz, Andoni Gorosabel, Modibo Sagnan, Aihen Munoz.

REAL SOCIEDAD (4-3-3): Alex Remiro; Nacho Monreal, Igor Zubeldia, Robin Le Normand, Joseba Zaldua; Mikel Merino, Asier Illarramendi, David Silva; Mikel Oyarzabal, Alexander Isak, Adnan Januzaj.

United have rediscovered their form since crashing out of the Champions League group stage; they’re second in the Premier League right now, though they only managed a draw with West Brom last time out. Sociedad are fifth in La Liga but their form has been up and down in recent weeks.

Hello and welcome to our live coverage of this Europa League Round of 32 first-leg fixture! It’s Real Sociedad against Manchester United at the Juventus Stadium in Turin, after the game was moved because of coronavirus travel restrictions.

The teams are on their way out onto the pitch, and we’re almost ready for kick-off!



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