Manchester United are through to the UEFA Europa League Quarterfinal.
The Reds ran rampant against Real Betis in the second half of the first leg of their Round of 16 tie, arriving in Spain with a 4-1 aggregate advantage. All that was left was to safely avoid any more suspensions or silly mistakes in Seville, and thankfully that’s exactly what they did.
There were some early warnings from the Spanish side, testing the high line of Harry Maguire and Lisandro Martinez, but poor finishing and good recovery in defense snuffed out the early danger. Juanmi sent one chance wide of the target after sprinting in behind to receive a ball over the top, and another chance was blasted wide a few minutes later. Joaquin had a decent hit as well, but it clipped the post on it’s way out past a diving David De Gea.
The first half was largely uneventful, with the biggest worry after the missed chances being the officiating and danger of Casemiro and Bruno Fernandes picking up suspensions from accumulated yellow cards. Facundo Pellistri, who earned his first start on the night, was booked after he was slid into by a Betis defender. The Uruguayan winger went to ground to pass the ball, but that was by necessity whereas the late challenge against him was by intent.
The deadlock was broken in the second half to put United minds at ease, with Marcus Rashford making up for a poor miss in spectacular fashion. He gathered himself outside the box and scouted an angle before he let rip, placing a powerful strike into the bottom corner to seal the deal.
It was routine after that, with Betis finding another chance via cutback cross only to see Borja Iglesias arrive too early to steer it on target. They had an angled free kick as well after a Diogo Dalot foul just outside the box, but they wasted the chance, setting up an easily blocked shot into the crowd from the edge of the box.
United had a handful more chances themselves, the best likely falling to Wout Weghorst, who couldn’t quite connect cleanly on the half volley.
The next opponent will be revealed after the draw on Friday, with a pretty strong bunch to choose from. They will have a fresh Casemiro for the tie however, as he is suspended from domestic action for four games, but avoided picking up a yellow in the win against Betis.
First up though is an FA Cup Quarterfinal against Fulham at Old Trafford on Sunday.