We had expected Axel Tuanzebe to start against Real Sociedad, so it was a surprise to see him on the bench.

Then when he came on at half-time, it had been expected that one of the centre-backs would go off.

Instead he replaced Fred, who had picked up a yellow card, and was taken off to avoid suspension.

So Tuanzebe lined up in a midfield role alongside Nemanja Matic, which was unexpected, although not completely from left-field.

Manchester United v Real Sociedad  - UEFA Europa League Round Of 32 Leg Two
(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Amid a midfield injury crisis, we had tipped playing a centre-back, Tuanzebe or Lindelof, out of position as one possible solution if Solskjaer was reluctant to use Ethan Galbraith – who played 90 minutes on Monday night for the under-23s.

So how did Tuanzebe get on in midfield?

The best aspect of his 45 minute performance was that he looked comfortable.


Nemanja Matic had a good game, which made it easier for him, as did the lack of intensity from Sociedad as the Spanish side seemed to give up as the second half went on.

Tuanzebe scored too, netting an impressive header from Alex Telles’ corner, before it was ruled out, thanks to a dangerous challenge from Victor Lindelof.

The defender told BT Sport after the game it was not a position he had worked on in advance of the game. He said: “It was a different challenge, it’s been a while since I played there.”

Tuanzebe completed 92 per cent of his passes, won two tackles, and even created one chance.

As players return from injury, a chance like this in midfield probably won’t come again for him, but after playing so infrequently this season, it is good for him just to get on the pitch.

Manchester United v Real Sociedad  - UEFA Europa League Round Of 32 Leg Two
(Photo by Jan Kruger – UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)


Here is a look at how United fans reacted to Tuanzebe’s midfield performance…

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