Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes scored as Manchester United secured a convincing 2-0 victory over Granada in the Europa League quarter-final first leg at Nuevo Los Carmenes Stadion.
The Spanish side have never played in a European quarter-final. Having knocked out Napoli in the previous round, they weren’t a team to be taken lightly.
It was the hosts who got off to an energetic start with Chelsea player on loan Kenedy sparkling the ball through the area. However, quality was slipping away from both sides as Granada’s solid form kept United at bay. Indeed, the closest to each side that came in the first exchanges came from a speculative shot from a distance of Rashford.
However, the breakthrough came in the 31st minute after a sumptuous long ball in defense of Victor Lindelof. The Swede’s 60-yard pass chose Rashford’s run who took a touch to control and rolled the ball past Rui Silva with his second. It was his 20th goal of the season – and it came at a perfect time for United.
This means Rashford now has 20 or more goals in successive seasons for United. He becomes the first player to achieve this feat since Wayne Rooney over ten years ago.
Blink your eyes and you’ll miss Man Utd’s first goal against Granada…
The Spanish TV director certainly did 😂
– Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 8, 2021
Scott McTominay and Luke Shaw then took bookings for awkward challenges in order to rule them out of the second leg.
Between the warnings, Granada briefly threatened an equalizer. First Yangel Herrera hit the outside of David De Gea’s post. Moments later, the former Tottenham man Roberto Soldado dragged a volley just off.
And in the last chance of half-time, De Gea made his first significant save. The Spaniard – restored to United’s lineup – did well to hold a fierce Kenedy volley from outside the box.
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Suspensions pile up for United
Granada got off to a good start in the second half, with De Gea having to hold a Kenedy volley from a distance.
Harry Maguire then stepped forward with determination and tried his luck from a distance, his shot going a few feet wide.
Kenedy again shot towards the goal from a distance, but De Gea was calm again despite another effort on target.
Maguire then took a reservation after getting on the wrong side of the energetic Antonio Puertas.
That meant he, too, alongside Shaw and McTominay, will have to miss next Thursday’s second leg.
With time running out, United claimed a second from the penalty spot with Bruno Fernandes just returning his kick.
The penalty was awarded after a Yan Brice Eteki was tried for fouling Fernandes in the area.
However, it seems like a job well done for United who more than justified the victory. This sets them up well for the return leg at Old Trafford – but it will be a changed roster due to the suspensions.
Nonetheless, they will be confident to finish the job and reserve their place in the semi-finals of the competition for the second season in a row.
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