Real Sociedad 0-4 Manchester United: result, summary, goals
Real Sociedad 0-4 Man Utd: Europa League last 32
Real Sociedad 0-4 Man Utd: match report
Two goals from Bruno Fernandes set Manchester United on the road to an emphatic 4-0 win over Real Sociedad in their Europa League round of 32 first-leg away match on Thursday to put the English side firmly in control of the tie.
United started strongly in the game - played in Turin due to covid-19 travel restrictions between Spain and the UK - but were thwarted several times by goalkeeper Alex Remiro, who made good saves from Marcus Rashford and Scott McTominay early on.
Fernandes opened the scoring after 27 minutes following a mix-up between Remiro and central defender Robin Le Normand, who collided with one another, allowing the Portuguese to roll his 20th goal this season into an empty net at the Juventus Stadium.
He curled in his second from the edge of the box after 57 minutes, initially ruled out for offside but given by VAR.
Marcus Rashford added the third eight minutes later before Daniel James, who had earlier seen an effort cahlked off for offside, made it four in the dying seconds.
United, who won the trophy in 2017, are among the favourites and Fernandes said they plan on going all the way after being knocked out of the Champions League at the group stage.
"We’re in this competition to win it," he said.
"My target is scoring the most goals I can and trying to assist my team mates in scoring too. My target is trophies, and winning trophies is more important than scoring goals.
"Today I think we did everything well. We still have the second leg and a tough game at home; 4-0 is a good result but we have to be aware of what Real Sociedad can do.”
The second leg will be played next Thursday at Old Trafford. (Joseph Walker reporting).
Europa League: early round-up
Wow! While we were busy with four goals in Turin, there were plenty more being tucked away elsewhere.
La Real humbled
As Pedro points out, Real Sociedad have had a number of fairly big defeats in Europe.
Peep, peep, peeeeep!! Game over
This game is clearly petering out now. Diallo has shown a few nice touches since coming on. Plenty expected from the new boy.
We'll have five added minutes
Le Normand is going to miss the return leg after that booking. It may not matter too much.
Oyarzabal replaced by Orgilles Jon
Man Utd goal analysis
Ahead of the game we looked at where the threats for United, at both ends, may come from.
Barrenetxea gets his head to a cross but again United have enough players in the way. This has been a solid showing at the back from the Premier League side.
Solskjaer freshening things up
Mata and Diallo ON
Fernandes and Greenwood OFF (Fernandes with a big smile as he trots away. He believes this tie is over)
SAVE!! Greenwood almost makes it four but La Real's last line of defence makes another impressive stop.
The chance was created by Fernandes who, after receiving the ball in the centre of the pitch, laid off a perfectly weighted pass into the path of his young teammate.
More changes for Alguacil
Portu and Barrenetxea ON
Isaak and Januzaj OFF
Martial is loving this. Coming on with the game seemingly in the bag has him doing keepie-uppies to keep the ball away from his opponents in the middle of the park.
Another corner won by United. Telles takes but it's defended well and away.
La Real will feel a couple of goals are needed here, certainly one. And obviously without conceding again.
Gorosabel and Guevara ON
Zaldua and Illarramendi OFF
That third goal seems to have taken all the wind out of the Basque sails. United now looking so comfortable and could add to their tally if the flow continues this way.
United are having fun out there now. La Real are certainly not.
Maguire, unmarked, gets on the end of a Telles corner and Remiro pulls off a great save to prevent the fourth. The whistle had actually gone for a foul in the area but the keeper wasn't to know that.
United have the ball in the net again but the offside flag is up against James, who ends up scoring.
VAR checks and, by a couple of centimetres at most, the decision stands.
SUB: Martial comes on for Rashford.
Zaldua tries to ask some questions of the United defence but his cross from the right is easily gathered by Henderson. And the United keeper is quick to get things going...
Powerful hit from Oyarzabal is, once again, blocked well by a black shirt of United.
The Basques will be gutted with that recent sucker-punch after starting the half so well.
Solskjaer immediately turns to the bench and switches Matic for McTominay.
GOAL!! Wait...Fernandes has the ball in the net from a United break away but the flag is up for offside.
It's VAR time...
CHANCE! Silva has a chance to strike from around the penalty spot but gets underneath the ball and the threat is gone. It's definitely the Spaniards taking this second half to their opponents so far.
Free-kick awarded to United and this is their first chance to cause some problems in an attacking sense since the restart.
The delivery is into the mixer but headed clear and then La Real build with some neat interplay.
Isaak is flagged for offside as he is slipped free behind a fairly high United line.
It has been a positive start from the named 'hosts' but nothing yet to show for it.
PING! Oyarzabal had attempted a couple of crosses from the left that were both blocked easily enough, but the second of these laid up Le Normand for a spectacular effort.
There appeared to be no danger but the defender hit it sweetly from around 35 yards. Henderson stopping it without too much difficulty, though.
No substitutions yet as La Real get some early build up play going. They'll be desperate to get back on level terms as soon as possible, I'm sure.
Real Sociedad start the second half.
OK, the players are back out...
Europa League: half-times
A quick glance around the other early evening games shows quite a number of goals. Like this one, several of the other matches are being played at neutral venues thanks to covid-19.
Second half thoughts
La Real can look to the opening and closing spells of the first 45 for reasons for hope.
A little more composure with the final pass or shot in those spells could have put a very different complexion on this match, and certainly Solskjaer will be warning his players about sitting back too much and inviting on danger. This was something we saw more of after they took the lead.
It will be interesting to see how Alguacil decides to set up for the second half. Go for it and risk being caught on the counter and ending this tie before the return leg, or keep it balanced and aim to nick an equaliser.
We'll soon find out...
Real Sociedad will clearly be disappointed to be going in at the break behind in this game. That said, it could have been worse.
Prior to the opening goal of the game, United had had a couple of very decent opportunities to beat Remiro but failed to take them, McTominay and Rashford having the best of them.
When the goal did come, it was one that should have been dealt with better by the Basque defence, although that takes nothing away from the calm finish from Fernandes.
Peeep! The whistle blows and it's time for oranges.
We'll have one more minute of play.
Another free-kick, this time much more blatent as Monreal knows he's never catching James and thrusts his torso into the youngster.
Bailly called up for a foul on Oyarzabal but for me it's just one of those where the 'victim' kicks the other player in a 50:50 but gets the decision. Nothing in it.
Silva skips into the area but his cross is blocked and half cleared.
Zubeldia then has an effort, this time on target, but again a body is thrown in the way.
The white and blue shirts are now dominating the play and most of it is in and around the United penalty area.
They are first to the loose balls and almost fashioning a clear chance to shoot at goal but the Premier League stars are fighting to squeeze them out or blocking dangerous final passes.
La Real have upped their play a touch - partly due to the English side dropping back a few metres since their goal - and a couple of half chances present themselves.
Januzaj finds himself in space on the left but his attempt at finding a teammate with a low cross is sabotaged by him misshitting it high and over.
David Silva hasn't been involved much thus far but looks to thread a ball through the United defence. It's well covered by a team more than familiar with his skills.
Delicious little nutmeg from Januzaj on Telles looks to have him cutting into the box with real danger. Somehow he takes his eye off the ball, however, and knocks it out of play before he can do anything else.
OFF THE LINE! First Remiro saves brilliantly from Rashford who, although controlling the shot with composure, will be disappointed not to have found the net.
The rebound is headed back goalwards by Fernandes and that is cleared away from the line. United looking the more dangerous right now.
SAVE! McTominay bursts into the Sociedad area on the right and hits it low with just Remiro to beat. The keeper's legs do the business, and the Scotsman will be replaying that in his head with regrets he didn't go for the dink.
Corner won by Isaak who looked to set up a foot race against Wan-Bissaka down the left.
Januzaj takes and after a flick and some concern, United get it clear.
James gets a ball into the opposition area but it's dealt with well and La Real bring it away. Again play breaks down before anything meaningful can be created.
Possession is switching back and forth as both sides struggle to string a number of passes together. That incredible start seems to have affected either teams ability to structure their play.
As Oyarzabal broke away, Wan-Bissaka was giving Monreal a bruised leg. And for that he is shown a yellow card by Sandro Scharer.
Oyarzabal gets down the left wing and whips in a low cross. It's got a nice shape to it but too far in front of Isaak.
Real Sociedad: scoring and conceding
Looking across their European adventure this campaign, as well as their domestic league action, here is how the goals have been going in at both ends for the 'hosts' tonight.
The pace continues to fly along but both keepers have had a couple of minutes to rest easy. Let's hope this open nature to the game is maintained.
CHANCES A PLENTY!
After that initial La Real attempt, United go straight down the other end and Remiro has to make a very important save to prevent Rashford firing home.
Then we head all the way back to Henderson who deflects a very decent Isaak strike wide. What a start!
CLOSE!! Januzaj almost opens the scoring.
A mistake in midfield let Isaak rolls it to the former United man who curls just wide as Henderson throws himself.
United get us underway and knock the ball quickly around the back to get some early touches.
An attempt to break down the left is quickly snuffed out.
And we're off!
Fist-bumps and smiles
The teams are out on the field and go through the usual pleasantries.
Some final preparations going on for the players here in Turin. Not long now till the action begins.
How they got here: Man Utd
It was a very different route to this juncture for Solskjaer's side. After a blistering start to their Champions League group, things were flipped on their head in the final two games and RB Leipzig qualified for the top tournament in their place.
How they got here: Real Sociedad
The group stage saw the Basque side just edge ahead of AZ Alkmaar in their quest to reach the knockout phase of the Europa League.
Europa League action
It's a busy night in European competition tonight. And the great thing about technology is that you can follow several at the same time.
UEFA to think again on competition format
Europe's top leagues, including the Premier League, want UEFA to think again about their proposed changes to the Champions League, amidst concerns over congestion from the 100 extra matches.
The European Leagues body, which represents the domestic championships, wants to see changes to the proposals to ensure greater access to clubs from smaller leagues and has expressed concern over the increased number of games.
UEFA's plans will see the group stage transformed into a 'single table' format instead of the current eight groups of four teams and with 36 teams rather than 32 involved.
The changes mean there would be 225 matches in the competition compared to 125 now.
Full story below:
What the managers say: Imanol Alguacil
“It was probably a very different Man United when they were knocked out by these Spanish teams in the past,” Imanol said.
“We are seeing a very different Man United now. Much more powerful, much more competitive, etc. We’ll have to see. It’s a different team altogether.
“As for my players, I honestly didn’t ask them - I just don’t like asking my players about different teams, so I didn’t ask them about Man United.
“I’d rather go through the games with my staff and prepare the way we always do.
“We are aware of the huge potential that Man United have and we’ll see how we’ll deal with that.”
What the managers say: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
"You've got to be very, very good against Sociedad, it's probably the hardest you could pick from our unseeded group."
"They were top of LaLiga for a while, now they're still in the hunt for the Champions League for next year, got some top players, some very experienced players, some quality players, some young very good ones.
"We have to play at a high level to get a result, of course we do, because the Spanish league is a quality one."
One player for United who would have felt completely at home this evening is Paul Pogba.
The French midfielder was forced off during the Red Devil's 3-3 draw with Everton on 6 February and the thigh injury will keep him out for at least a few more weeks, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer confirmed.
Merino and the Premier League
“He comes from Spain and he’s effing class. In fact, he’s better than Fàbregas: it’s Merino, la, la, la, Merino.”
Anyone remember that chant being bellowed out at St James' Park? If so you'll definitely want to read Sid Lowe's piece on the former Newcastle, Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal player who starts for La Real this evening.
And if you don't remember it...it's still worth a read!
Man Utd XI
Henderson, Bailey, Maguire, Wan-Bissaka, Telles, Fred, McTominay, James, B. Fernandes, Greenwood, Rashford
Real Sociedad XI
Remiro, Elustondo, Zubeldia, Zaldua, Monreal, Illarramendi, Silva, Merino, Januzaj, Oyarzabal, Isak
Right, it would appear the team news is coming in...
Europa League pedigree
Both these teams will fancy their chances not only in this tie but also for lifting the trophy at the end of the season.
Tonight's venue has actually hosted a Europa League final before, back in 2014 when Sevilla (shock!) were the champions.
United we travel
The Premier League stars had to fly a little further to get to northern Italy but these pampered players get top notch treatment en route.
La Real night before
It's not often you play your home game around one thousand kilometres away from your own stadium, but there are lots of strange things taking place thanks to the global pandemic that continues to grip us.
The good news is that the game will go ahead, and here are the Spanish lads checking out the pitch last night.
Real Sociedad vs Man Utd: live
Hello and welcome to our build up and live coverage of tonight's tasty Europa League match between Real Sociedad and Manchester United.
We're kicking off in the Allianz Stadium, home of Juventus, in Turin at 18:55 CET, but I'll be bringing you all the team news, stats and news ahead of that. Stay with me...