Erik ten Hag Reacts As Man United Bounce Back To Victory Against Real Betis In The Europa League.

Manchester United bounced back from a devastating 7-0 defeat to fierce rivals Liverpool on Sunday, as they totally outclassed a quality Real Betis side in a 4-1 Europa League round-of-16, first-leg win on Thursday night.

Manager Erik ten Hag picked the exact same starting XI that got heavily humiliated at the hands of Liverpool at Anfield.

Despite knocking out La Liga leaders Barcelona in the previous round, the Red Devils went into the match against Betis knowing that all five of their past European competitions came to an end at the hands of Spanish opposition.

United had firm control of the opening minutes as the snow fell at Old Trafford. Marcus Rashford kept his cool to give the host an early lead inside ten minutes, only for Ayoze Perez to drill home a superb leveller against the run of play to make it 1-1 in the 32nd minute. 

Manuel Pellegrini's side were hopeful following the equaliser, and goalkeeper David De Gea was breathing a sigh of relief just before the break after his terrible pass led to a Perez effort from a tight angle deflecting off the post, and failed to give the visitors the lead.

United returned for the second half hitting top gear better than the last time out against Liverpool when the conceded a whopping sux goals in the second half of that tie.

They quickly went 3-1 up this time around, with goals from Antony and Bruno Fernandes in the space of six minutes.

First, Fernandes picked out Antony on the right edge of the area and watched as his Brazilian teammate cut onto his trademark left foot and curled an unstoppable shot past Bravo. Then the United captain who faced intense scrutiny for his Liverpool display picked up a goal of his own with a glancing header from Shaw's whipped-in corner.

Wout Weghorst, another criticised player after Anfield, scored his first Old Trafford goal to wrap up a comfortable win that means Ten Hag's men head to second leg at the Benito Villamarin Stadium in Seville next Thursday with a three-goal cushion.

Indeed, Betis will be grateful that the damage isn't even worse; United created enough chances to win by more than three.

The defeat sees the Spaniards' hopes of securing a first ever Europa League quarter-final berth now hanging by a thread.

Speaking after the game, Ten Hag said; "I think we played well, the second half especially. 4-1. Good goals. Good performance also to give something to the fans, and they gave us something back as well because they were right behind us.

 "Very grateful after Sunday, We can't put too much emphasis on it, because it's gone, we can't change it.

 "It's always good to see how a team reacts after a setback. We can reset, we can bounce back, this team has character."

"Bruno, I think he was brilliant today, he led the team from the first minute by his game, possession, make the rhythm of the game, and then score a goal, so I'm happy," The Dutchman added.

Man United host Southampton in the Premier League on Sunday, while Betis sitting fifth in La Liga play away to Villarreal on same day.

Europa League: Thursday's results in full:

This is how all eight last-16 ties stand after today’s first legs:

Bayer Leverkusen 2-0 Ferencváros

Juventus 1-0 Freiburg

Manchester United 4-1 Real Betis

Roma 2-0 Real Sociedad

Sevilla 2-0 Fenerbahce

Shakhtar Donetsk 1-1 Feyenoord

Sporting CP 2-2 Arsenal

Union Berlin 3-3 Union SG

A reminder that the second legs are to be played next week, on Thursday 16 March.


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