Real Sociedad 0-1 Manchester United: Four Things We Learned

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Manchester United have gone to San Sebastian and defeated Real Sociedad 1-0, but that was not enough for them to finish top of their Europa League group. Alejandro Garnacho scored the only goal, helped by a Cristiano Ronaldo assist, yet the Argentine’s historic goal was not sufficient. Erik Ten Hag tried to get his team to a late rally which would have made all the difference, but this win will ultimately leave a somewhat sour taste, mostly because of what it will mean for the knockout stages.

Ten Hag Surprises With Van De Beek

When a player goes 11 months without making a start for a team, it is always a surprise to see him in the lineup, especially in a match as important as this one was for United. But Erik Ten Hag likes to make a surprise here and there and that is what he did, giving Donny van de Beek his first start for Man United since December 2021. He occupied the number 10 role and last just under an hour, but was unable to do something more worth remembering. But considering Bruno Fernandes will miss the next game against Aston Villa, that might be a chance for him to get another run in the team.

Garnacho Keeps Getting The Spotlight

Last week, Alejandro Garnacho got his full debut for Man United in Europa League and his dazzling performance made everyone pay attention. This time, the young Argentine grabbed the headlines, scoring the only goal and even asking Cristiano Ronaldo for permission to celebrate the goal the way he does. He continues to show why many around Man United are excited about him as an 18-year-old prospect, after Garnacho became club’s youngest non-English goalscorer in major competitions, surpassing George Best.

Maguire Goes Up Top

Among the surprises Ten Hag came up with last night, one that could be even deemed desperate is his substitution from 82nd minute. He decided to substitute Garnacho, but he brought on Harry Maguire for the last 10 minutes, giving him licence to go forward and be a tall forward in case a late chance comes his way, to try and score the much needed second goal. That clearly did not happen and this experiment has left many puzzled.

Man United To Go The Hard Way

Ultimately, Man United won against Real Sociedad, but it was not enough. The Devils had equaled the 0-1 scoreline from the first match between the two sides, which meant it was the goal-difference that had to decide which team will finish in the first place. With Sociedad being better in that regard, United ended up in second place, meaning they will have to face a team which exited the Champions League as the third-placed team. This not only means a tough opponent in the play-off knockout round, but it also means an extra two matches in an already swamped schedule. It remains to be seen how the scheduling of United’s two postponed matches will be resolved.

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