Five things we learned as Manchester United beat Real Sociedad 4-0

Manchester United’s Europa League campaign is off to a strong start with a 4-0 ‘away’ victory against Real Sociedad.

Bruno Fernandes (2), Marcus Rashford and Dan James were on the scoresheet.

Here is a look at five things we learned from the fixture…

Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

It had to be Fernandes

Bruno Fernandes’ opener put him up to 20 goals for the season in all competitions.


It was an intelligent piece of play, making a dangerous run, anticipating the oncoming clash between two Sociedad defenders and their goalkeeper and then tapping in the loose ball.

United had began the match as the better team, and wasted chances through Marcus Rashford (twice) and Scott McTominay.

Fernandes ensured United got the reward the early dominance deserved. He had created Rashford and McTominay’s earlier chances.

As usual he took matters into his own hands. Another second half goal took his tally to 21. It’s only mid-February.

Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

United sharper with Bailly

Barring an early mistake in the second minute, Eric Bailly was absolutely outstanding.

The Ivorian was starting his first match in a month, so his early rustiness was understandable.

After that he sharpened up and United’s defence looked better with him in it. Having extra pace in the backline helps.

Bailly was effective in cutting out crosses and was alert enough to clear a ball off the line when Dean Henderson was impeded. A foul was called but Bailly’s tenacity was commendable all the same.

Bailly even ended the night with an assist after his forward pass was received out wide by Dan James, who ran at goal and scored in clinical style.

Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images

Rashford got there eventually

Marcus Rashford deserves credit for the pass which confused the Sociedad defence and led to Fernandes’ opening goal.

When it came to taking chances himself, he was far too wasteful. The first miss came after just two minutes when he shot at the goalkeeper from close range.

Then with the game goalless he squandered a one on one when it seemed easier to score. His shot was too casual, too central, and easy for the goalkeeper to save.

There was another moment late in the first half he ran into an alley full of Sociedad defenders, when there were multiple passes on.

He got his goal in the end after an incisive through ball from Fred, for his first assist of the season.

Rashford is now up to 17 goals for the season, but this was only his third in his last 10 games. Hopefully it will lift his confidence.

Photo by Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Offside via Getty Images

Diallo debut

At 3-0 up United were cruising. It was the perfect time to bring on Amad Diallo.

Eventually, Solskjaer obliged, bringing him on in the 83rd minute.

Just getting on was progress, the first of many appearances he will make for United.

There’s a chance he gets to start the home leg, thanks to United’s healthy advantage.

Looking good for qualification

Real Sociedad looked like a very tough tie when the draw was made. United deserve credit for coming away from the first leg with a healthy lead.

The second leg at Old Trafford should be a formality. Sociedad have enough quality to cause United problems of course, but realistically, it is looking very likely we are into the next round already.

United approached this game correctly. There was a degree of rotation with Bailly and James coming in, while a strong side was selected. There’s a trophy up for grabs in this tournament and United’s serious approach reflected this.

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