Manchester United took control of their Europa League quarter-final against Granada as goals from Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes clinched a 2-0 victory in the first leg at Estadio Los Carmenes.
Rashford netted his eighth European goal of the season in the 31st minute with exquisite control and a precise diagonal finish from Victor Lindelof, before Fernandes secured a two-goal cushion with a late penalty after being struck in the face by defender Yan Brice.
The streets were lined with supporters as the teams arrived at the stadium for what was arguably the biggest night in Granada’s history as they made their first appearance in a European quarter-final – but despite the fact for attracting the return of David de Gea in a number of routine saves – the La Liga club rarely threatened United.
The victory leaves United in pole position to advance to the Europa League semi-finals on Thursday’s return to Old Trafford next Thursday, although Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will have to finish the job without captain Harry Maguire, Scott McTominay and Luke Shaw, all suspended. after picking up yellow cards.
Grenade: Silva (6), Diaz (6), Duarte (5), Neva (5), Vallejo (6), Gonalons (6), Montoro (5), Puertas (6), Herrera (6), Kenedy (7), Soldado (5).
Submarines: Foulquier (5), Sanchez (5), Machis (5), Suarez (5), Eteki (n / a).
Male Utd: De Gea (7), Wan-Bissaka (6), Lindelof (7), Maguire (6), Shaw (5), McTominay (5), Pogba (6), James (6), Greenwood (6), Fernandes ( 7), Rashford (7).
Submarines: Such (6), Matic (5), Van de Beek (n / a).
Man of the match: Marcus Rashford
Rashford and Bruno give United the lead in Granada
Granada flew out of the traps, but United’s main concern after the hosts’ meteoric debut disappeared was the fitness of Rashford, who, having been fit enough to start, appeared to be uncomfortable and healing an injury in the first quarter of an hour.
United quickly took control of the fight, limiting Granada to the odd sight of goal. Chelsea striker on loan Kenedy threw a volley from a tight angle and former Spurs striker Roberto Soldado threw a shot into the side net, but on the next pass the visitors pulled it off. this crucial goal on the outside.
- Jesus Vallejo and Carlos Neva returned as Granada made two changes to the side defeated by Villarreal in La Liga. Former Spurs forward Roberto Soldado, Man City loan midfielder Yangle Herrera and loan Chelsea forward Kenedy have started for Granada.
- David de Gea, Scott McTominay and Daniel James returned as Man Utd made three changes from the weekend’s Premier League win over Brighton.
Lindelof’s sumptuous 70-yard diagonal was snagged by Rashford, who produced a flawless first touch before dispelling any lingering fitness issues with a calm finish past the scurrying goalie into the corner.
United went out on a free kick and nearly paid the price five minutes before the break, but the woodwork came to their rescue when loaned Manchester City midfielder Yangel Herrera’s cross shot shot from the post.
McTominay and Shaw took bookings in quick succession, which will rule them out of next week’s second leg at Old Trafford for fouls on Antonio Puertas, but it was the only blow Granada could deliver to United before the break, with a volley from Kenedy in a brisk effort. the arms of De Gea.
De Gea was called up early in the second half to prevent another Kenedy effort from swerving into the lower corner before Maguire took a wide shot after making his way through space in midfield.
Edinson Cavani replaced Rashford for the final 25 minutes as Solskjaer looked for a better advantage in the first leg. Fernandes almost scored a second away goal six minutes from time, only to be denied by the outstretched arm of Granada goalkeeper Rui Silva.
With the seconds up, Granada would have been content with a one-goal deficit – but the size of their task increased in the last minute when Brice was judged to have kicked Fernandes with the ball into the box – and the Portuguese passed the penalty in front of Silva. to leave United in the driver’s seat.
Rashford rises in Europe – Match statistics
- Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford has become the fourth Premier League player to reach 20 goals in all competitions this season after Harry Kane (29), Mo Salah (27) and Bruno Fernandes (24).
- Marcus Rashford is the first English player to score eight goals for Manchester United in European competition in a single season (excluding qualifying) since Bobby Charlton in 1964-65.
- Marcus Rashford is the first player to score more than 20 goals in consecutive seasons for Manchester United in all competitions since Wayne Rooney in 2008-09 / 2009-10.
- Manchester won back-to-back away matches in Europe against the Spanish opposition for the first time, also beating Real Sociedad 4-0 on the road in February 2021.
- Manchester United have scored four clean sheets in their last five games in Europe (1 goal conceded), after having managed only one shutout in their previous seven (12 goals conceded).
- Granada have lost consecutive games for the first time in their first European campaign, having lost just two of their previous 12 (W8 D2 – including qualifiers).
Travel from Manchester United to Tottenham on Super sunday at 4.30 p.m. – live Sky Sports Premier League – and Granada will travel to Valladolid in La Liga on Sunday at 5.30 p.m. United will next host Granada in their Europa League quarter-final second leg at Old Trafford on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET.