After a humiliating 7-0 defeat at Anfield on Sunday, Erik Ten Hag was insistent that his United side would ‘bounce back’ against Real Betis. The Dutchman named an unchanged lineup from that loss against Liverpool, with Bruno Fernandes retaining his captaincy despite calls from fans to strip him of the role.
MUN: De Gea; Shaw, Martinez, Varane, Dalot; Fred, Casemiro; Rashford, Fernandes, Antony; Weghorst
BET: Bravo; Abner, Felipe, Pezzella, Sabaly; Carvalho, Rodriguez; Juanmi, Joaquin, Henrique; Perez
Wout Weghorst had the ball in the back of the net with just five minutes played, as the Dutchman tapped home Fred’s cross into the box – but the linesman’s flag was promptly raised as the striker was clearly offside. It wouldn’t matter all too much though, as Bruno Fernandes attempted to find the Dutchman in the box a minute later – but a touch from Germán Pezzella found Marcus Rashford, who rifled an unstoppable shot past Claudio Bravo to give the Red Devils the lead!
Another chance fell to Weghorst soon after, as Casemiro found the striker waiting in the box, but his diving header was well saved by Bravo to deny United a second goal in quick succession. Marcus Rashford attempted to play the ex-Burnley striker in minutes later, but the Dutchman’s effort rolled millimetres wide of the post.
United were relentless in their search for a second, and it was Marcus Rashford who would have the next opportunity to fire home after a poor pass from Rodriguez put Bravo under pressure – but the Chilean was just able to win the race for the ball to deny the England international.
Weghorst missed yet another sitter before the thirty minute mark, as he sent Antony’s low cross well over the bar from five yards out! It really should have been 2-0 for United, but they’d have the chance to redeem themselves soon after as Weghorst was able to claim the rebound from Rashford’s saved strike, and the Dutchman found Fernandes – but the captain’s strike deflected wide!
Real Betis levelled the score in the 32nd minute to silence the raucous Old Trafford crowd, as Juanmi switched the play to Ayoze Perez on the right flank. The ex-Leicester winger rifled a powerful strike across the face of goal, settling in the bottom corner to send the Verdiblancos faithful into full voice! A VAR check decided that though Juanmi handled the ball as he controlled it with his chest, the goal would stand as his hand was not the first part of his body to make contact with the ball.
Betis almost fell behind once again as Rashford cut the ball back to Antony in the centre of the box, but the chance was well smothered by Claudio Bravo before the Brazilian could get a shot off. The flag would have been raised anyways – as Rashford was offside in the buildup.
A diabolical pass out from David De Gea was intercepted by Juanmi, who played in Ayoze Perez. The goalscorer surged forwards into the box before unleashing a shot on goal – but the Spaniard’s strike deflected off Bruno Fernandes and the far post before being cleared by Luke Shaw. Both sides headed into the break level, though United will look back on their missed chances and believe they should be ahead, especially given the controversial handball shout surrounding Perez’s equaliser.
United retook the lead soon after play resumed, thanks to Antony’s curling left-footed effort. After receiving the ball from Bruno Fernandes, the Brazilian worked his way past Abner and unleashed a sensational curling effort into the top-left corner, leaving Claudio Bravo rooted to the spot.
Bruno Fernandes headed home in front of the Stratford End to extend United’s advantage, rising above Pezzella to send the ball crashing past Bravo – who despite his best efforts wasn’t able to make the save. After facing heavy criticism for his performance on the weekend, that goal couldn’t have come at a better time for the Portuguese midfielder.
Antony had a great chance to make it four after Bruno Fernandes sent him rushing past the Betis defence, but the Brazilian opted to shoot rather than squaring it across the face of goal – and his chipped shot settled on the roof of the net.
Bruno Fernandes left Claudio Bravo in considerable pain inside the box after a reckless challenge for the ball saw the Portuguese midfielder’s boot clatter into the goalkeeper’s shin – though he escaped with just a yellow as he managed to avoid contact with his studs. On another day, that could have quite easily been a straight red card.
Fred’s ball out wide was intercepted by Felipe, but the defender’s poor clearance only fell as far as Wout Weghorst – and the Dutchman, desperate to get his first European goal for Manchester United, shot first-time – but a good recovery from Felipe saw the strike deflected into Bravo’s gloves.
Weghorst finally got his goal in the 82nd minute, firing home from close range after Facundo Pellistri dribbled round half of the Real Betis defence before playing in the Dutchman – who made no mistake this time and found the back of the net! 4-1 to United, and they were really in cruise control at this point!
A comfortable win at Old Trafford sets United up nicely for their trip to Spain next Thursday, where they’ll look to maintain that lead at the Estadio Benito Villamarin. Tonight’s performance showed real grit to recover from that devastating Anfield performance.