Sociedad stalemate seals Man United Europa progress

Shola Shoretire Source: Getty Images

Manchester United booked their place in the last 16 of the UEFA Europa League after an uninspiring 0-0 draw with Real Sociedad at Old Trafford on Friday (AEDT).

With their progress to the next round all but secured after a thumping 4-0 first-leg win in Turin last week, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer opted to start with Marcus Rashford, Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw on the substitutes' bench, while Dean Henderson replaced David de Gea in goal. 

Mikel Oyarzabal should have taken advantage of a sluggish start from United, but his early penalty flew well over, while Bruno Fernandes and Daniel James went close for the hosts before the break. 

Substitute Axel Tuanzebe saw an effort ruled out during an insipid second half, though it mattered little in the end as United booked their place in Friday's last-16 draw with the minimum of fuss.

La Real were given a golden opportunity to take a 13th-minute lead when James clumsily brought down Andoni Gorosabel in the penalty area, but Oyarzabal blazed the resulting spot-kick over.

Only a superb touch from Victor Lindelof prevented Alexander Isak tapping home at the back post soon after, while Anthony Martial was denied by Alex Remiro at the other end as United belatedly woke from their slumber. 

Fernandes then whipped a fine effort against the crossbar from 16 yards before Remiro pawed away James' header shortly before half-time.

Rashford replaced Fernandes at the break and flashed a 30-yard free-kick past Remiro's left-hand post soon after, while Modibo Sagnan headed against the crossbar for the LaLiga side. 

Tuanzebe thought he had scored his first United goal shortly after the hour mark, but his powerful header was ruled out for a foul by Lindelof following a pitchside review by referee Lawrence Visser.

Shola Shoretire became United's youngest ever player in European competition at the age of 17 years and 23 days when introduced with 14 minutes remaining as the Red Devils stretched their unbeaten run at home in the Europa League to 15 games.

 

What does it mean? Lacklustre United stumble through

While United's place in the next round was pretty much secured by last week's drubbing, that is no excuse for their dismal display in this second leg.

This was the perfect opportunity for Martial and Mason Greenwood to rediscover their scoring touch and fringe players like James, Alex Telles and Nemanja Matic to impress Solskjaer. Simply, they failed. 
 
Fernandes the only bright spark

He only played 45 minutes, but no player on the pitch had more shots (three) and played more key passes (two) than Fernandes. A prime example of why Solskjaer rarely rests his star man.
 
La Real rue Oyarzabal's early miss

Things could have turned out differently for the visitors had Oyarzabal not fluffed his lines from 12 yards.

His wayward spot-kick meant he became the first visiting player to fail to score a penalty against United in European competition at Old Trafford since Roma's Daniele De Rossi in April 2008. 
 
What's next?

United travel to Chelsea in the Premier League on Sunday, while La Real take on champions Real Madrid in LaLiga a day later.

Source Omnisport