Mikel Oyarzabal misses early penalty as Manchester United stroll through to Europa League last 16; draw for next stage takes place on Friday with Tottenham, Rangers and Arsenal all in the hat
Friday 26 February 2021 06:04, UK
Manchester United safely progressed to the Europa League last 16 as their goalless draw with Real Sociedad at Old Trafford saw them through 4-0 on aggregate.
Real Sociedad were given an early chance to get a goal back in the tie, but Mikel Oyarzabal struck a penalty high and wide after Dan James had brought him down in the box.
Bruno Fernandes hit the bar with a superb effort later in the first half, while substitute Axel Tuanzebe had a second-half header ruled out by VAR for a Victor Lindelof foul.
The game will likely be remembered for second-half substitute Shola Shoretire becoming the youngest-ever Manchester United player in a European game at 17 years and 23 days, while summer signing Amad Diallo made his home debut from the bench.
With several intriguing mouth-watering opponents awaiting the last 16 - including Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's former club Molde, or one of three other British sides in Tottenham, Rangers and Arsenal - all eyes turn to the draw at midday on Friday.
With United holding a healthy first-leg lead, Sociedad needed a miracle to get back into the game, and though they were handed an early lifeline, they blew it.
After James got the wrong side of Oyarzabal and collided with the Sociedad man just inside the box, Oyarzabal himself stepped up, but sent his terrible penalty wide of goal.
United breached Sociedad's deep defence on the odd occasion in the first half, and came closest when Fred rounded goalkeeper Alex Remiro at an angle, cut the ball back for Fernandes, but his brilliant curling effort from just inside the box hit the top of the crossbar.
United rang the changes at half-time as Tuanzebe, Marcus Rashford and Brandon Williams came on for Fred, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Fernandes, while Diallo also made his Old Trafford debut in the second period.
Rashford was straight into the action, sending a knuckle-ball free-kick inches wide from range, while defender Modibo Sagnan hit the bar at the other end after pinball in the United box.
Tuanzebe thought he had scored his first goal for United two-thirds of the way into the game, tucking away a brilliant header from an Alex Telles corner, but the VAR spotted a foul by Lindelof as he caught the head of Jon Bautista with his knee while jumping.
Anthony Martial came close from range, while Sociedad waited until 85 minutes to register their first attempt as Martin Merquelanz's effort was saved by Dean Henderson.
Man Utd made only four changes from the side that beat Newcastle as Dean Henderson, Eric Bailly, Alex Telles and Mason Greenwood came in for David de Gea, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw and Marcus Rashford.
Amad Diallo was on the bench alongside youngsters Ethan Galbraith and Shola Shoretire.
United's long tradition of bringing through academy players continues as Shoretire came on for his first European appearance late on, becoming the youngest player to appear for the club in Europe ahead of Norman Whiteside (17y 131d), Mason Greenwood (17y 156d) and Gary Neville (17y 211d).
In fact, five of the 10 United outfield players on the final whistle were academy graduates, as Solskjaer turns to the youth in his squad as rotation becomes more of a factor this season.
The draw will take place at midday on Friday, February 26 in Nyon's House of European Football at 12pm UK time. You will be able to follow it across Sky Sports' platforms.
Man Utd go to Chelsea in the Premier League, live on Super Sunday at 4.30pm on Sky Sports Premier League, followed by a trip to Crystal Palace on Wednesday, also on Sky Sports Premier League at 8.15pm.