Manchester United took full control of their Europa League round-of-32 first-leg tie against Real Sociedad with a 4-0 win in Turin – thanks to another Bruno Fernandes masterclass.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will have high hopes of success in the competition and selected a strong side at Juventus’ Allianz Stadium, chosen as a neutral venue due to Covid-19 restrictions.
A bright opening saw chances fall to both sides. First a mistake by Eric Bailly let in Adnan Januzaj, but his curling effort just flew past the post.
Then, Marcus Rashford found himself through on goal, but his low effort was saved by Alex Remiro in the Sociedad goal. Dean Henderson then did well to keep out a low drive from Alexander Isak.
Rashford then wasted the best opening of the game with Remiro saving well, while Fernandes’ effort was then cleared off the line.
But the breakthrough arrived in the 27th minute when Rashford’s pass caused panic in the hosts area. With two defenders and the goalkeeper getting in one another’s way, Fernandes merely waited for the ball to fall his way before stroking home. It was his 20th of a highly-productive season for United.
United made a bright start to the second half with Rashford’s powerful running causing panic in the hosts area. He laid the ball off to Bailly, but his shot was wild and high. That’s defenders for you!
Fernandes, however, did ensure their pressure counted moments later when he finished off a clever move. A quick break saw a ball played in to the Portuguese star. He let the ball run across his body to Daniel James, who touched the ball on for Fernandes to curl home from 18 yards.
Two for Man Utd, two for Bruno Fernandes.
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) February 18, 2021
After a VAR check, the goal was allowed to stand. That made it 21 for the season and 52 goal involvements since he signed a year ago.
United then made it 3-0 on 65 minutes when a magnificent throughball from Fred played in Rashford, who slid the ball into the corner.
James does well on rare United start
It then looked to be 4-0 when Mason Greenwood broke free and squared for James to finish smartly. However, the former was ruled offside in the build-up.
United again applied the pressure and James – who did his first-team prospects no harm – saw another low shot saved.
Greenwood was the next to try his luck as he bidded to mark his new deal with a goal. However, the teenager dragged his shot wide.
However, for fourth did arrive in the 90th minute as James broke clear down the right and drilled a low shot through the keeper’s legs. United will now take a very commanding lead back to Old Trafford for the second leg and allow him to rest some big names. It also racked up a fourth consecutive win for United in Turin – a satisfying night all round for Solskjaer.