Real Betis manager Manuel Pellegrini has lamented the difference in quality between his side and Manchester United ahead of this week’s Europa League second leg.

After the 4-1 loss at Old Trafford, Pellegrini had admitted his side got off lightly with the scoreline.

Now speaking to AS after Real Betis earned a 1-1 draw with Villarreal at the weekend, Pellegrini has once again pointed to Antony as the difference maker.

Referring to Antony’s high price tag, Pellegrini referred to the winger’s second goal as the moment which put his side on the back foot.

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Pellegrini on Antony

Pellegrini said he had been pleased with Real Betis’ performance at Old Trafford, until Antony’s goal caused them to fall apart.

He said: “There we saw the same Betis as always for 53 minutes, until a footballer worth a hundred million euros placed the ball in the goal. But we had also had a good first half.”

Betis had gone in 1-1 at half-time, but the second 45 minutes was all one-way traffic as Manchester United dominated.

Barring a disaster for United, the second leg should be a formality, with the Red Devils looking to confirm a quarter-final spot.

Betis have an extra defensive headache with regular centre-back Luiz Felipe ruled out after picking up a hamstring injury at Old Trafford.

Defence has been a problem for the Spanish side since the World Cup. Before the tournament they conceded only 16 goals in 21 games.

In 2023 so far they have conceded 22 goals in 14 matches, and with Manchester United set to visit the Benito Villamarín Stadium on Thursday, this number is expected to further increase.

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