Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes scored as Manchester United claimed a convincing 2-0 win over Granada in the Europa League quarter-final first leg at the Nuevo Los Carmenes Stadion.
The Spanish side have never contested a European quarter-final. Having knocked out Napoli in the previous round, they weren’t a side to be taken lightly.
It was the hosts who made an energetic start with on-loan Chelsea man Kenedy fizzing the ball across the area. However, quality was eluding both sides as Granada’s solid shape kept United at bay. Indeed, the nearest either side came in the early exchanges came from a speculative shot from distance from Rashford.
However, the breakthrough arrived in the 31st minute after a sumptuous long ball out of defence from Victor Lindelof. The Swede’s 60-yard pass picked out the run of Rashford who took a touch to control and rolled the ball past Rui Silva with his second. It was his 20th goal of the season – and came at a perfect time for United.
It means Rashford now has 20 or more goals in successive seasons for United. He becomes the first player to achieve that feat since Wayne Rooney more than a decade ago.
Blink and you'll miss Man Utd's opening goal vs Granada…
The Spanish TV director certainly did 😂
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 8, 2021
Scott McTominay and Luke Shaw then picked up bookings for clumsy challenges to rule them out of the second leg.
Between the cautions, Granada briefly threatened an equaliser. First Yangel Herrera hit the outside of David De Gea’s post. Moments later, former Tottenham man Roberto Soldado dragged a volley just wide.
And in the final chance of the half, De Gea made his first meaningful save. The Spaniard – restored to the United line-up – did well to hold a fierce volley from Kenedy from outside of the box.
Suspensions stack up for United
Granada made a bright start to the second half, with De Gea having to hold a Kenedy volley from distance.
Harry Maguire then drove forward with purpose and tried his luck from distance, his shot going a few yards wide.
Kenedy again fired goalwards from distance, but De Gea was again untroubled despite another effort on target.
Maguire then picked up a booking after getting on the wrong side of the energetic Antonio Puertas.
It meant he too, alongside Shaw and McTominay, will have to miss next Thursday’s second leg.
With time ticking away, United claimed a second from the penalty spot with Bruno Fernandes just squeezing home his spot-kick.
The penalty was awarded after a Yan Brice Eteki was adjudged to have fouled Fernandes in the area.
However, it looks a job well done for United who more than warranted victory. It sets them up nicely for the second leg at Old Trafford – but it’ll be a changed line-up owing to the suspensions.
Nonetheless, they will be confident of completing the job and booking their place in the semi-finals of the competition for the second successive season.