New competition for Manchester United and new poor start for Erik ten Hag’s side. After their starting losses in the Premier League, the Red Devils were defeated in their first Europa League match of the campaign, against Real Sociedad. The affair at Old Trafford ended 1-0 for the visitors from Spain, as Brais Mendez’s goal just before the hour mark paved the way for the Basque club to get important points early on, in their fight for the top spot in Group E.
Ten Hag changed the lineup from his usual Premier League teams, inserting the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Harry Maguire into the lineup, as well as new signing Casemiro. That did not help, though, as United looked uninspired and slow. Here is what we learned from this Europa League loss.
United Concede From A Shocking Penalty
It is incredible that with the arrival of VAR, there are still shocking mistakes happening, such as the one regarding Real Sociedad’s penalty. The match was ultimately resolved by a penalty for a handball of Lisandro Martinez which should not have stood. Man United centre-back had dived to block a shot, the ball hit him on his knee, before rebounding to hit him onto his arm. Considering the clear rules in this regard, it was a big mistake by the referee to allow this as a penalty. Even after the VAR checked the whole situation, they still proceded with the original decision. The application of basic rules was not there, so the point of having VAR when that does not happen is perplexing.
Ronaldo’s Display Thorn In The Eye
Cristiano Ronaldo did not start any of the last four Premier League games, in which Man United won the maximum of 12 points available. Now, he played in UEFA’s second-tier competition for the first time since 2002, when he was 17, and his display was not a great one. His attitude on the pitch was not ideal, he had two shots off target and two blocked, missing one big chance in the process. But one thing stood out specifically, when a ball from deep found him while he was deep in offside position, which was ultimately negated by the fact one Real Sociedad player touched the ball. He was by far the closest to the opposition goalkeeper and was still unable to even get a shot, losing the race to two Sociedad defenders. That did not use to happen to Cristiano Ronaldo…
Odd Atmosphere At Old Trafford
The match at Old Trafford was played just hours after the news of The Queen’s death. The game had to go ahead, which was probably a right decision – also, the fact that this was a UEFA match, the European football body would not have had it any other way. But it was a fact that the atmosphere in the stands was different than usual. There were no huge cheers as usual, everything seemed to be unusual and more quiet than ever. United fans were only to be more heard in the last half hour, when the players trailed and were looking for an equaliser. This could be United’s last game before their next Europa League fixture next Thursday, considering the expected postponement of all Premier League matches this coming weekend.