Report from the Europa League last-16 second leg between Real Betis and Manchester United at Estadio Benito Villamarin; Marcus Rashford's second-half goal put the tie to bed after early Real Betis pressure; Man Utd into the last eight as they search for second trophy this season
Friday 17 March 2023 06:02, UK
Manchester United cruised into the Europa League quarter-finals with a 5-1 aggregate win over Real Betis after Marcus Rashford's 27th goal of the season sealed a 1-0 victory in Spain.
Rashford broke the deadlock just shy of the hour with a stunning strike from range to kill off the tie and end Betis' hopes of a miraculous comeback. The Spanish side had looked the more dangerous up until that point.
United failed to control the first half, allowing the game to become stretched which almost resulted in Betis taking an early lead through Juanmi only for the forward to miss the target when through on goal. 41-year-old Joaquin's deflected effort also hit the upright as United buckled under the early Betis pressure.
But wastefulness from former Man City boss Manuel Pelligrini's side ensured United could weather the storm and progress after Rashford put a horrendous miss behind him to add the finishing touches to United's win as they march on in the Europa League in search of a second trophy this season.
The draw for the Europa League quarter-finals takes place at 12pm UK time on Friday March 17 in Nyon, Switzerland at UEFA's headquarters. The semi-final draw will also be made. You can follow the draw with Sky Sports' live blog.
Man Utd: De Gea (7), Wan-Bissaka (6), Maguire (7), Martinez (7), Malacia (6); Casemiro (7), Fred (6); Fernandes (7), Pellistri (6), Weghorst (6), Rashford (7).
Subs: Sancho (6), Lindelof (6), Elanga (6), Dalot (6), Sabitzer (6).
Player of the match: Marcus Rashford.
United had a panicky start under intense pressure from Betis as they searched for an early goal to reduce the deficit on aggregate. Juanmi was put through on goal for a glorious chance after eight minutes but sent his shot wide when he probably should have scored.
De Gea, who struggled in possession, had to be alert as Joaquin's long-range effort struck the post and he was quick off his line to keep out Juanmi as United were caught out in behind again after half an hour. Betis, fifth in LaLiga, had the visitors on the ropes for most of the half but were unable to take advantage.
United, despite being second best in the first period, could have gone in 1-0 up at the break as Facundo Pellistri's strike hit the post and bounced out in stoppage time. Striker Wout Weghorst was following in and had he connected with the ball would have given United the lead.
Betis picked up where they left off but couldn't improve in front of goal. United began to settle and nearly scored when Bruno Fernandes fed Rashford in the box, but the club's top scorer could not find a way past Betis goalkeeper Rui Silva from close-range.
Rashford uncharacteristically spooned over when through on goal after a bobble took the ball away from him with only Silva to beat just two minutes later. But he quickly brushed off the embarrassment to find the back of the net with a superb strike from range to break Betis' resolve.
The Spanish side went flat after Rashford's goal extended United's aggregate lead to four goals, but there was enough time for Juanmi to waste another good chance in the closing stages. United underperformed at the Benito Villamarin, but ultimately won the tie a week earlier at Old Trafford.
Man Utd boss Erik ten Hag told BT Sport: "I am happy but we like challenges and we knew that Betis is a good team, we saw that against Real Madrid and Barcelona. But we beat them twice so I think we performed very well.
"I think we could have taken the lead but there were moments in rest defence and our defensive transition when they could break. We had to avoid that and keep more control on the ball and use the overload in the midfield. We didn't always do it.
"Second half was much better but they also lost energy, especially after the first goal. We were much better on the ball, much more calm, kept the ball in the opponent's half, made them run and then you see we created chances."
Asked about Pellistri's performance on his first start for United, he added: "All the players did very well, the players that come in can do a job and give good performances so we not only have 11 players, we have a squad. For Facundo, it is great to come in, he had some good comments and performances in training but a game is different.
"In the start he has to come in, but you saw after some minutes he got belief and had some really good actions, defending and doing his job. So I am really pleased with his performance."
On coming out of the game unscathed in terms of losing anymore players, he said: "This time no red cards, no injuries. In our squad we have depth, but not that big."
Man Utd captain Harry Maguire, who started against Betis after spending the last three games as a substitute, says "I'm doing my part on and off the field" despite reduced minutes under Erik ten Hag this season.
He told BT Sport: "It's been a good two games over the two legs. Betis are a good team, they're fifth in LaLiga. We knew it wouldn't be an easy draw.
"They came at us and threw everything at us, but we expected a fast start from them. We knew if we didn't concede in the first 20 minutes it would have been a big part of the game well done.
"In the second half we controlled the game really well, we got the goal we deserved and after that we played well."
Asked about his reduced minutes this season, Maguire added: "Listen, I work hard at training and that's all you can do. It's not been too long since my last game it was only a couple of weeks ago. And I've started five or six games since the World Cup.
"Obviously I want to play more and start more but I'm doing my part on and off the field.
"I have an important role at this club and every day I try and make this club succeed whether I'm playing or not."
The first legs of the quarter-finals will be played Thursday April 13.
The second legs will be played Thursday April 20.
The first legs of the semi-finals will be held on May 11, and the second legs on May 18.
The final takes place on May 31 at the Puskas Arena in Budapest, Hungary.
Manchester United host Fulham on Sunday in the FA Cup quarter-finals in their final game before the international break.