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Bruno and Man United overcome Anfield embarrassment to defeat Betis

MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Manchester United bounced back from the horror show against Liverpool to take control of the Europa League tie with Real Betis by beating the Spanish club 4-1 on Thursday.

United won their round of 16 first leg at Old Trafford thanks to goals from Mark Rashford, anthony, Bruno Fernandes and Wout Weghorst and have one foot in the next round before the second leg in Seville next week. Real Betis were level 1-1 at half time after the striker was loaned out from Leicester City Ayoze Perez leveled but United scored three times in the second half to make amends for a 7-0 defeat at Anfield last weekend.

quick reaction

1. Fernandes recovers after criticism

It’s been a tough few days for Fernandes after he was criticized more than most following the 7-0 defeat at Liverpool. He has faced calls to be stripped of his role as one of United’s captains but, backed by manager Erik ten Hag at his press conference on Wednesday, the Portuguese midfielder restored faith with a performance to remind everyone of what was important. what is it.

Wearing the armband just as he did at Anfield, Fernandes was involved in United’s first early goal when his cross could only be cleared into the path of Rashford. In the second half, he scored himself with a header from a Luke Shaw cross and as he celebrated with a knee slide into the corner flag, he was greeted by chants of “Bruno, Bruno” from the stands.

United held Real Betis to an equalizer with an impressive display in the second half and Fernandes was at the center of most of it. He had a bad day against Liverpool, like everyone else, but he will continue to be a key part of Ten Hag’s team. Both the coach and the fans wanted a reaction after the defeat against Liverpool, and Fernandes was the first in line.

2. Ten Hag tells United’s Anfield flops to clean up their mess

Ten Hag has won praise for his man management this season, and his move after the humiliation at Anfield was to send the same team against Real Betis. The Dutchman’s message was essentially “fix it” and eventually he got what he wanted.

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Ten Hag was relatively diplomatic in his pregame news conference on Wednesday, but he didn’t mince words in his program notes. Writing directly to supporters, he said: “It is not acceptable for Manchester United to lose in such a way to any team, but especially not to Liverpool. I want to make it clear to you, our fans, that I share your bitter disappointment at the result and the There was no doubt in the players that we cannot tolerate what we saw in the second half on Sunday”.

Ten Hag can be satisfied with the response of his players after they started as if they had something to prove. Weghorst had a goal disallowed for offside after five minutes, and just 60 seconds later Rashford used a quick break to put United ahead with a shot into Claudio Bravo’s top corner. Ten Hag said the goal was to get through the nightmare against Liverpool as quickly as possible and, despite a difficult run after Real Betis equalized, he got what he wanted.

3. The shock options of Real Betis escape

If Manchester United fans turning up on a snowy Manchester night had underestimated Real Betis, now they won’t. Cheered by nearly 4,000 rowdy fans from their corner of Old Trafford, the Spanish team worried United when given break chances and had the technical quality to create chances when they stepped into the penalty area.

Pérez’s finishing for the equalizer was exceptional, although there was a bit of luck in the accumulation of the ball that seemed to be rolling down Juanmi’s arm, and they could have been ahead at half time after another effort from Pérez hit Shaw and then to the post. .

A team from Spain ended United’s European hopes in every season since they won the Europa League in 2017, and in the first half Real Betis suggested they might be able to carry on the curse.

After conceding three goals in the second half, Betis’s hopes of causing an upset are likely over, although Ten Hag won’t take them lightly in the second leg in Spain next week. A deficit of one or two goals could have been manageable, but after losing 4-1, the tie is all but decided.

Best and worst performers

BEST: Bruno Fernandes, Manchester United. He created a goal and netted one to bounce back after his miserable performance against Liverpool.

BEST: Ayoze Perez, Real Betis. He had a wonderful shot that curved inside the far post and made it 1-1.

BEST: Marcus Rashford, Manchester United. He scored his 26th goal of the season with a forceful shot from inside the penalty area after six minutes.

WORST: claudio bravoReal Betis. The former Manchester City goalkeeper let Fernandes’s header slip through his hands.

WORST: David De Geamanchester united. One of those nights when their distribution caused problems.

WORST: Louis PhilippeReal Betis. He made a mess trying to clear Fernandes’s cross, which led to Rashford’s goal.

Highlights and Highlights

Antonio has something of a left foot on him, doesn’t he?

After the game: what the players/coaches had to say

Rashford: “It’s always important to win the next game after a loss, it’s the only way to recover and continue the momentum we had before the game.”

Perez: “United’s second goal probably took our breath away a bit and we didn’t react well enough. It doesn’t leave us with a good feeling. However, at home, in front of our great fans, absolutely anything can happen.” .”

Key statistics (provided by ESPN Stats & Information research)

– Rashford’s goal snapped a two-game scoreless streak. The United forward hasn’t gone three games without scoring since October.

– Rashford has as many goals this season in all competitions (26) as he has in 2020-21 (21) and 2021-22 (5) combined.

Until next time

manchester united: United will return to the comfortable confines of Old Trafford on Sunday for a Premier League clash against Southampton.

Real Betis: The Sevillian club will travel to the Spanish Levant for an appointment with Villarreal in LaLiga (1:30 p.m. Eastern time, broadcast live on ESPN+).