English Premier League giant Manchester United brought a massive 4-1 advantage to Spain to face La Liga’s Real Betis at Benito Villamarín Stadium for the second leg of the UEFA Europa League Round of 16. The Red Devils kept their cool throughout the game and extended their lead via Marcus Rashford’s 27th goal in all competitions this season in the second half, progressing to the next knockout round of the competition with a 5-1 aggregate score line.
Erik ten Hag’s side is the only English club left in the second-tiered European club football competition, after Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal lost to Portuguese Primeira Liga’s Sporting CP in a penalty shoot-out.
Comfortable Win for Devils
The team from the Red Half of Manchester was forced to a goalless draw by Southampton in its previous Premier League fixture, but with a optimistic margin obtained in the first leg, ten Hag was not shy from rotating the squad by resting his usual starters. Facundo Pellistri, Tyrell Malacia, Harry Maguire and Fred were chosen to start this game for the away side, while Manuel Pellegrini altered his Los Verdiblancos with six changes.
The home side almost pulled one back in the overall tie, when 41-year-old Spanish winger Joaquín’s long-ranged shot brushed off the post. It was United’s turn to extend their lead moments before the half-time whistle, after Pellistri’s volley met Wout Weghorst just in front of the goal. The Dutchman’s effort was guided towards the post and eventually cleared away by Betis’ defence.
The Red Devils’ best player of the season, 25-year-old England international Rashford had a couple of missed chances early in the second half, before he finally scored his sixth Europa League goal of the season 10 minutes after the restart. The Manchester-born striker was given room to work with before the penalty box, in which he decided to unleash a solid strike that beat past Rui Silva for United’s fifth goal in the overall tie. Rashford’s goal allowed Erik ten Hag’s side to reach the next round of the competition with ease.
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10-Man Sporting Overcame Gunners on Spot Kicks
Elsewhere in another round of 16 clash, English Premier League leader Arsenal returned to the Emirates to welcome Sporting CP. The tie was hanging in the balance as they drew each other 2-2 in Portugal and could not separate themselves either after 120 minutes plus added time of gameplay in this return leg. Granit Xhaka helped the home side to regain the lead in the overall tie in the 19th minute, but the Swizz midfielder’s effort was cancelled out by Pedro Gonçalves’ wonder goal in the second half. The Portuguese levelled things up by catching Aaron Ramsdale off guard to launch a shot just after the halfway line, tying the score at 3-3.
Despite the visitors losing Manuel Ugarte due to a second yellow card late in the second extra time period, Arsenal was not given enough time to break down the 10-man Sporting CP and was forced to a penalty shootout to decide which team to go through.
All of the first nine penalty takers scored from the spot, apart from Brazilian forward Gabriel Martinelli. Sporting was leading 4-3 after seven penalties, with Jeremiah St. Juste, Martin Ødegaard, Ricardo Esgaio, Bukayo Saka, Gonçalo Inácio, Leandro Trossard and Arthur all scored. Then, the Guarulhos-born striker’s subsequent shot was saved by Spanish goalkeeper Antonio Adán around the right area of the goal, before Nuno Santos finished the Gunners for good with a successful spot kick seconds later. Sporting CP’s victory meant there will only be one English club left in the competition.
SPORTING STUN THE EMIRATES 😱 pic.twitter.com/UiePftFiIv
— 433 (@433) March 16, 2023
Which Teams Went Through as Well?
Manchester United and Sporting CP will be joined by the likes of Union Saint-Gilloise, Sevilla, Juventus, Bayer Leverkusen, Roma and Feyenoord in the UEFA Europa League Quarterfinal, after they dispatched their opponents respectively. The draw for this competition, alongside that of UEFA Champions League and UEFA Conference League will be taking place tonight at UEFA’s headquarters at the House of European Football in Nyon, Switzerland.
Which team do you think has the capability to emerge victorious in this season’s UEFA Europa League? Feel free to make your prediction for the next three rounds of the contest in the comment section.