Rashford nets stunner, Red Devils fix last 8 spot| SolSportHQ
Manchester United cruised into the Europa League quarter-finals with a 5-1 aggregate win over Real Betis after Marcus Rashford’s 27th goal of the season sealed a 1-0 victory in Spain.
2022/2023 UEFA Europa League
0′ The match is about to start!
7′ Casemiro’s header wide out
11′ Joaquin’s long shot hits the post
29′ Yellow Card! Facundo Pellistri booked
45′ Pellistri hits the bar
47′ Joaquin’s long shot wide out
50′ Rashford’s shot wide out
53′ Rashford miesses good chance
55′ GOAL! Betis 0-1 Man Utd (Rashford)
70′ Weghorst’s shot too straight
Marcus Rashford was 25 yards from goal when Casemiro floated a pass to him at the Estadio Benito Villamarin. Only Real Betis could tell you why one of the hottest strikers in Europe right now was left unmarked.
Maybe it was because Rashford had just missed two one-on-ones in the space of three minutes. But players like him will only let you off so many times.
Rashford controlled the ball and used the time and space he had to take one touch then another. He looked up and unleased a devastating, dipping right-foot shot past Rui Silva and inside the post.
And that was it. Game over. If it wasn’t already over, of course. The three-goal lead United built up in the first leg at Old Trafford last week meant they were hot favourites to go into Friday’s quarter-final draw. Only twice in Europa League history had teams come back from deficits as great or greater than that to progress.
They kept out Betis throughout a rather frenetic first half and reached half-time with that advantage intact. But the supporters here still believed, still roared their team on in this wonderfully atmospheric stadium in Seville.
Then Rashford struck his 19th goal in 23 games since the World Cup and the life drained out of them. All that remained was the drum beat sounding defiantly from the Gol Sur behind Silva’s net in the second half.
Erik ten Hag would certainly have settled for this outcome before kick-off, even though his team’s game management in the first half was a little questionable.
He started Casemiro and Bruno Fernandes, as he said he would, and both avoided the booking that would have seen them banned for the first leg of the quarter-finals.
Ten Hag also gave Facundo Pellistri his first start as reward for the young Uruguay winger’s progress since the World Cup, which included setting up the fourth goal against Betis at Old Trafford last week, and a rare run-out to Harry Maguire.
‘Pellistri deserves it,’ said the United boss. ‘He has been training very well and deserves to be in the team. It is about him now, he knows what we expect from him. He can do it, he has proved it for Man United and the international team.
‘Harry Maguire has also trained very well. It is also about rotation but we know what job he can do.’
Maguire certainly had his hands full in a first half that was all about United stopping Betis from scoring the goal that would have re-ignited this tie and given their fans new hope. The Benito Villamarin was noisy enough without needing any more encouragement, but United did just that with some careless passing and a lack of composure.
De Gea’s kicking was called into question in the first leg and it was little better here. One pass went astray and another into touch in the first six minutes alone. Casemiro, of all people, almost let Betis in as well as United were rocking a little under the early pressure.
The goal Betis craved so nearly arrived in the eighth minute when Juanmi raced clear of Maguire and touched the ball past De Gea but it rolled just the wrong side of the post.
Veteran midfielder Joaquin helped launch wave after wave of attacks from the home side, and the 41-year-old went close in the 11th minute with a long-range effort that De Gea tipped around the post. Then Lisandro Martinez uncharacteristically missed a header which also let in Ayoze Perez and De Gea had to hack clear.
Towards the end of the half, De Gea had to come out again to deny Juanmi who knocked the loose ball over the bar with the United keeper well out of his goal, and the Betis No.7 then had another effort blocked by Maguire.
United did settle into the game as the game wore on but posed little threat until right before the interval as they failed to have a shot on target in the first half for the first time this season.
Pellistri offered energy and endeavour on the left, but lacked penetration. Rashford was subdued on the left. Fernandes had the first shot in anger from 30 yards in the 20th minute but it was well over the top. Wout Weghorst offered little threat until almost the last kick of the half.
Fernandes was fouled midway inside the Betis half and took the free kick himself, floating it into the box. The ball was knocked down to Pellsitri whose volley was deflected towards the far post where Weghorst stuck out a leg to divert it against the post and keeper Silva did well to flick it away.
A United goal at that stage would have been undeserved, but at least they had kept out Betis and that was the main aim.
The second half got off to a lively start with Rashford very much centre stage. Twice in three minutes, Fernandes sent him through one-on-one with Silva, either side of De Gea’s reflex stop to keep out Perez’s header.
The first time, Rashford went low and the keeper was equal to it. The second time he went high but spooned his effort way over the bar.
The third effort came out of the blue and was quite devastating.
Manchester United host Fulham on Sunday in the FA Cup quarter-finals in their final game before the international break.
Betis XI: Joaquin, Juanmi, Carvalho, Pezzella, Sabaly, Rui Silva, Ayoze Perez, G. Rodriguez, Ruibal, Edgar González, Abner
Subs: Guardado, Bravo, Canales, V.Ruiz, W.José, Iglesias, Martin, Juan Miranda, Rodri Sánchez, Luiz Henrique, Dani Pérez, Félix Garreta
Man Utd XI: De Gea, Casemiro, Maguire, Fred, Weghorst, Bruno Fernandes, Rashford, Wan-Bissaka, Martinez, Tyrell Malacia, Facundo Pellistri
Subs: Heaton, Lindelof, Sabitzer, Varane, J. Butland, Shaw, Dalot, Sancho, McTominay, Anthony Elanga