Manchester United return to form after beating Real Betis 4-1 at Old Trafford

Four days on from their humiliation at Anfield, United had a point to prove to wins fans back on their side.

As a result, Manchester United manager Erik Ten Hag named an unchanged side from the collapse against Liverpool.

United’s goals came from Marcus Rashford, Antony, Bruno Fernandes and Wout Weghorst.

Former Leicester City forward Ayoze Perez scored Betis’ only goal.

The decision to pick the same team against Betis was a bold one. Although those players owed it to the fans to go out and put a big shift in, to some it seemed like a let off.

The players had embarrassed fans across the world, and thus should’ve been benched to learn from that. However, with it being an important game, and a perfect opportunity for the players to make a statement, Ten Hag’s decision makes sense.

How United overcame their Spanish opponents

With 72,998 in attendance, expecting a statement performance, United needed a fast start.

This was almost perfectly created in the first minutes. Antony found Fernandes in midfield, who’s first time effort was met by Fred in space. The Brazilian whipped in his delivery for Weghorst, who fired his header in off the post.

However, the assistant had his flag raised as Fred was deemed to be in an offside position.

A minute later, United did take the lead. On the counter attack, Rashford found Fernandes in space off the right flank. The Portuguese attempted to whip a delivery into Weghorst, but his effort deflected back to the English international. Rashford went round one, and smashed his shot past former Manchester City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, to give United a crucial early lead.

After scoring so early, Ten Hag would have hoped his team could go onto comfortably finish Betis off in the first half. However, this was not the case.

In the 17th minute, Weghorst came agonisingly close to doubling the red devils lead. A one-two from Rashford and Luke Shaw left the English fullback with time to cross on the left wing. His low delivery was on a plate for the Dutch international. Ultimately, Weghorst was only able to send it wide of the left post.

A minute later, Guido Rodriguez attempted a pass back to his goalkeeper. However, his pass was loose, which let Rashford burst onto it. Fortunately for Rodriguez, Bravo was equal to it and able to rush out and save Rashford’s shot.

Midway through the first half, Weghorst missed another huge chance to put United 2-0 up. Antony found himself on the opposite flank, slowly dribbling at the Betis defenders. Weghorst made a great run to get in behind the Betis defence, but when Antony whipped in a teasing delivery to the Dutch striker, Weghorst could only send his shot flying over the bar.

Just minutes after, United found themselves on the counter attack with Antony. The Brazilian winger had Rashford to his left, or Weghorst in greater space to his right, but chose the English winger. United’s number 10 struck low, but Bravo was able to parry it away.

United wouldn’t want to rue missing so many early chances.

In the 32nd minute, Perez struck Betis back into the game. Juanmi floated a lovely ball over to the Spanish winger, who drilled his effort down into the bottom left corner from a difficult angle.

Having created very little, this gave Betis a vital lifelong. United would be kicking themselves for missing their early chances.

Minutes before half time, Antony had a huge chance to restore United’s lead. Weghorst slipped Rashford wide in behind the Betis defensive line. The Englishman took a big touch to get away from the defence. This led Bravo to come off his line, but Rashford was able to get his pass away to Antony in time. However, the Brazilian could only shoot into Betis defender Abner. This then fell to a grateful Bravo.

A minute later, De Gea almost cost United a goal. Raphael Varane passed it back to the Spanish goalkeeper, who’s clearance only went as far as Juanmi, who slipped in Perez. Perez’s attempted cross deflected off Fernandes, escaping everyone but the post. Shaw was subsequently able to clear.

Thus, it remained 1-1 going into half time.

A trademark Antony goal restored United’s lead just after half time. Fernandes passed it to Antony off on the right wing. The Brazilian cut in and launched a sublime curler right into the top left hand corner of the net. It was an unstoppable shot from the former Ajax winger.

In the 58th minute, after receiving a flurry of backlash in the week for his performance against Liverpool, Fernandes headed home from a Luke Shaw corner to give United a 3-1 lead.

Four minutes later, United should have had their fourth. A swift counter attack saw Weghorst find freshly substituted Aaron Wan Bissaka on the right flank. The English fullback drove down the line before cutting back and laying off Antony. The Brazilian quickly passed it to Fernandes, who expertly slotted the ball through the Betis defence to meet Antony. United had four men waiting for an easy pass to tap into an open net, but the winger decided to try chip Bravo. His effort went over the bar onto the roof of the net.

Betis’ blushes were saved for the second time, when another loose back pass was just cleared by Bravo before the oncoming Fernandes could get there. Fernandes was so frantic that in his effort to get the ball, he struck the Chilean goalkeeper and received a yellow card.

In the 79th minute, Antony should have scored another. William Carvalho slipped in midfield, enabling Weghorst to run at the Betis defence. The Dutch striker slotted Antony in. However, Bravo was quickly off his line and able to save Antony’s shot.

Bravo was pivotal in keeping Betis in the tie.

Ten Hag decided to bring on Scott McTominay an Facundo Pellistri for the remaining minutes of the game. They replaced Antony and Fred.

Pellistri made an instant impact. Fernandes’ corner met the Uruguayan at the edge of the box. The young winger was instantly charged at by four Betis players. However, Pellistri was able to dribble round them, reaching the by-line. He cut it back for McTominay who’s deflected strike fell for Weghorst to finally get his goal.

The Dutchman pumped his fist to the Stretford End in a statement of sheer passion and relief.

In the 93rd minute, Fernandes sets Pellistri away in behind the Betis defence. The Uruguayan struck from wide, but his effort was comfortably saved by Bravo.

As a result, the game ended 4-1 to Manchester United.

Captains Performance

After receiving severe backlash midweek, Fernandes put in a phenomenal captain’s display. Throughout the game, the Portuguese was a major threat.

His ability to make the defence splitting passes, with the perfect weight of ball, set him apart from everyone on the field. Then to top off his game, he scored a great header from a corner. This had resemblance to that of Roy Keane against Juventus in 1999.

Player Ratings

Manchester United:

  • David de Gea – 5
  • Diogo Dalot – 6 / Aaron Wan Bissaka – 7
  • Raphael Varane – 6
  • Lisandro Martinez – 7
  • Luke Shaw – 6 / Tyrell Malacia – 6
  • Casemiro – 6
  • Fred – 6 / Scott McTominay – 6
  • Bruno Fernandes – 9
  • Antony – 7 / Facundo Pellistri – 7
  • Wout Weghorst – 7
  • Marcus Rashford – 7 / Jadon Sancho – 7

Real Betis:

  • Claudio Bravo – 8
  • Youssouf Sabaly – 5
  • German Pezzella – 5
  • Luiz Felipe – 5
  • Abner – 6
  • William Carvalho – 6
  • Guido Rodriguez – 7 / Andres Guardado
  • Juamni – 7 / Willian Jose – 6
  • Joaquin – 5 / Sergio Canales – 6
  • Luiz Henrique – 5 / Aitor Ruibal
  • Ayoze Perez – 7 / Borge Iglesias