Manchester United managed to overcome Real Betis in the second leg as well with a 1-0 win on the night and a 5-1 victory on aggregate to enter the Europa League quarterfinals on Thursday.
Erik ten Hag will be pleased with the way his team vindicated his pre-match stance that the team do not want to lose any tie irrespective of the opposition, competition and score-line.
Marcus Rashford scored his 27th of the season in the second-half to settle the contest and the Dutchman will be pleased with his goal but will be even more impressed by the display of right-winger Facundo Pellistri.
Pellistri’s first start
It has taken the Uruguayan 892 days to get his first start for the Red Devils since joining the club back in 2020. And he certainly grabbed his chance.
The Uruguay international showed his ability to take on his man and go both inside and out.
While his decision-making did let him down at times, it was refreshing to see him try and take on his man instead of cutting in to shoot like Antony does every time.
He successfully dribbled past his man three times while touching the ball 53 times. Whenever he came in, he tried to play a one-two and combine with his teammates.
He finished with a passing accuracy of 83% which included two accurate long balls completed and one successful cross.
Choosing to remain wide and keep the width intact was another help and he used his pace to great effect and it is clear to see that he possesses the ability to play on the shoulder of the last defender.
And unlike Antony, Pellistri always ran back to provide defensive cover. He was tenacious in the tackle and did not want to lose a single battle.
He won six ground duels while winning one tackle and won two fouls to relieve the pressure at crucial junctures.
Perfect Antony alternative
The 21-year-old also had the chance to score his first goal for the club from a corner at the stroke of half-time. After a melee inside the six-yard box, the ball fell to Pellistri who tried to guide the ball home with a half-volley.
Unfortunately, it hit the post and Wout Weghorst could not bundle the ball home. The United manager did not take him off and kept him on as a sign of how pleased he was with his display.
“It’s about training performance, you see him progressing, getting stronger. Good game v Leeds, Betis. To start is more difficult. But when game goes on he got belief, you see his abilities, his dribbles, crosses, runs behind, defending did his job,” the manager said after the game.
Pellistri clearly offers something different compared to Antony and with Alejandro Garnacho injured, it is Pellistri’s big chance and he certainly passed his audition.
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