Real Sociedad vs Manchester United. UEFA Europa League Group E.
Reale Seguros StadiumAttendance36,744.
Match report as Manchester United beat Real Sociedad 1-0 in Spain but finish second in their Europa League group; Alejandro Garnacho scores his first senior goal but Erik ten Hag's side must now compete in a two-legged play-off round against a third-placed Champions League team in February
Friday 4 November 2022 06:08, UK
Alejandro Garnacho's first senior goal gave Manchester United a 1-0 win over Real Sociedad in Spain, but it was not enough for Erik ten Hag's side to top their Europa League group.
The result sees United finish second in Group E - behind Sociedad on goal difference - and means they must now compete in a two-legged play-off round against a third-placed Champions League team in February.
United travelled to San Sebastian needing a victory by a two-goal margin to leapfrog Sociedad and they made the perfect start when teenager Garnacho controlled Cristiano Ronaldo's fine through ball before driving forward and firing home in the 17th minute. The strike saw the 18-year-old overtake George Best as United's youngest non-English goalscorer in European competition.
Man Utd: De Gea (7), Dalot (7), Lindelof (7), Martinez (8), Shaw (6), Casemiro (7), Eriksen (6), Fernandes (6), Van de Beek (5), Garnacho (7), Ronaldo (6).
Subs: Rashford (6), McTominay (6), Fred (n/a), Maguire (n/a).
Man of the match: Lisandro Martinez.
The Argentine then blazed over 10 minutes later before Ronaldo missed a glorious chance to extend United's advantage just before half-time when he lifted his effort narrowly over the crossbar.
An impressive double save from David de Gea ensured United went into the interval with the lead they needed, but their search for that all-important second goal after the break was unsuccessful - despite the introductions of Marcus Rashford and makeshift striker Harry Maguire.
Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag made three changes to his side following Sunday's 1-0 win over West Ham in the Premier League.
Victor Lindelof replaced captain Harry Maguire, while Donny van de Beek came in for Anthony Elanga to make his first start since last December.
Teenager Alejandro Garnacho, who impressed on his full debut against Sheriff Tiraspol last week, took Marcus Rashford's place.
The Europa League play-off draw takes place on Monday. As runners-up, United will find out who they will face in the next stage with Barcelona, Juventus and Ten Hag's former club Ajax among their potential opponents.
Group E winners Sociedad will find out who they will play in the round of 16 on February 24 after the play-off round has been completed.
The Europa League play-off draw will be held at 12pm on November 7 at UEFA's headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland.
The eight group runners-up from the Europa League will be seeded to face the eight third-placed sides from the Champions League group stage.
The eight group winners from the Europa League miss out on the draw and receive a bye to the round of 16. On February 24, they will be seeded and drawn against one of the eight winners from the play-off round.
However, no two sides from the same national association can be drawn against each other in either the play-off round or round of 16.
Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag told BT Sport: "You don't always get what you deserve. First leg, you get a penalty that isn't a penalty. Today we win, I'm happy with that.
"I'm happy with some other things, like the performance from Garnacho. Donny, back in the team. I think we made a really good goal with Garnacho. Some good chances as well.
"But of course, we are disappointed. We didn't score two goals because that is what we needed."
On Garnacho's performance, Ten Hag said: "I am really happy and I hope he can keep it going. He was a threat, he scored a goal and he was reliable defending.
"If he can keep this going, I am really happy. It was a great finish for his goal."
Manchester United midfielder Bruno Fernandes told BT Sport: "Our goal for today was to win by two goals.
"We tried everything, we took a few more risks at the end to try and get the second goal.
"We won the game against a great opponent; it wasn't enough to win the group but it's a win."
Sky Sports' Dan Sansom:
"I don't know if it's real or if I'm dreaming."
That was 18-year-old Alejandro Garnacho's reaction after making his full Manchester United debut against Sheriff Tiraspol last week.
The teenager received a standing ovation from the majority of those inside Old Trafford when he was substituted late on in the 3-0 win. Seven days later, the United fans who travelled to watch their side face Real Sociedad will find it even more difficult to hide their excitement.
Although Garnacho's match-winning goal in San Sebastian was not enough for United to win their Europa League group, the young Argentine produced another promising performance on his second senior start - against much better opposition.
His expert control and fine finish in the 17th minute illustrated his quality in the final third, while his confidence in possession, willingness to drive at opponents and unpredictable skills gave United a different dimension going forward.
"I am really happy and I hope he can keep it going," Ten Hag said of Garnacho, who is now the club's youngest non-English goalscorer in European competition.
He might be a raw talent, but the early signs suggest he has the potential to become a world-class winger. Under the guidance of Ten Hag, that outcome is a distinct possibility.
Manchester United have three more fixtures before the World Cup. They return to Premier League action on Sunday when they travel to Aston Villa (kick-off 2pm). United then face Unai Emery's side again in the EFL Cup at Old Trafford on November 10, live on Sky Sports (kick-off 8pm).
United's final match before the tournament in Qatar sees them make the trip to Fulham in the Premier League on November 13, also live on Sky Sports (kick-off 4.30pm).