Manchester United 0-1 Real Sociedad: Red Devils slump to Europa League defeat after Queen tribute

By Sports Desk September 08, 2022

A Brais Mendez penalty helped Real Sociedad beat Manchester United 1-0 in their Europa League Group E opener on Thursday, which followed an impeccably observed tribute to Queen Elizabeth II. 

Old Trafford fell silent before kick-off to honour Her Majesty, who died earlier in the day at the age of 96, while players from both sides wore black armbands in tribute to the monarch.

Cristiano Ronaldo – making just his second start of the season – went close on a number of occasions for the hosts, who registered just three shots on target in the whole game.

The Red Devils' four-game winning streak was ended shortly before the hour mark when Mendez slotted home from 12 yards after substitute Lisandro Martinez had handled in the area.

United were comfortably the better side in the opening 30 minutes, yet they failed to carve out any clear opportunities.

Ronaldo thought he had given his side the lead 10 minutes before the interval, but his powerful header was ruled out after he had strayed into an offside position.

The Portuguese superstar inexplicably headed wide with the goal at his mercy immediately after the restart, before lashing just over from outside the penalty area.

La Real went ahead in the 58th minute when Mendez powered home from the spot after David Silva's shot had struck Martinez's arm.

Erik ten Hag brought on Bruno Fernandes at half-time, and Jadon Sancho and Alejandro Garnacho in the second half, but United were unable to find a way past the visitors' stubborn backline in the closing stages.  


What does it mean? United's home run comes to an end

This defeat was United's first in 19 home matches in the Europa League – a run that started with victory over FC Midtjylland in February 2016. 

Meanwhile, it was La Real's first-ever win against English opponents in Europe at the seventh time of asking. 

Mendez shines 

Mendez put in an industrious display and deserved his status as match winner. The former Celta Vigo man scored with one of two shots – the most of any La Real player – while his total of two key passes was not bettered by any other player on the pitch. 

Antony struggles

Antony lit up Old Trafford with a debut goal against Arsenal at the weekend, but the former Ajax man was a subdued presence here. He had just one shot and failed to make a single key pass before he was replaced by Sancho with 20 minutes remaining.  

What's next?

Both sides return to domestic action on Sunday, with United away to Crystal Palace in the Premier League and La Real visiting Getafe in LaLiga.

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    A superb second-half performance from Morocco secured a famous 2-0 World Cup victory against Belgium at Al Thumama Stadium on Sunday.

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    Having seen a first-half free-kick from Hakim Ziyech disallowed, the same tactic provided dividends in the second period as Abdelhamid Sabiri put Morocco on course for just a third win in their World Cup history.

    The win was then secured in the final minutes of the game, Zakaria Aboukhlal smashing home from close range after Ziyech's fine work.

    Belgium saw the majority of possession early on and dictated play, Michy Batshuayi forcing an early save from Munir Mohamedi, who came into the side as a very late change for Yassine Bounou.

    Having been on the back foot for the majority, Morocco thought they had scored on the brink of half-time as Ziyech's free-kick found its way into the net, but Romain Saiss was offside and adjudged to have blocked Thibaut Courtois' line of sight.

    Lightning struck twice for Martinez's side after the break, as Sabiri whipped in a dangerous free-kick to the near post which found its way past Courtois and, while Saiss was again in the proximity, there was no offside flag to save Belgium this time.

    Any hope of a late fightback from Belgium was wiped away in added time, Ziyech winning the ball off a poor touch from Axel Witsel and teeing up for Aboukhlal to smash home.

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    Ronaldo, the record goalscorer in the history of international football, came into the World Cup with his future uncertain, after an inflammatory interview with Piers Morgan.

    The 37-year-old has since left Manchester United and is playing as a free agent for the first time in his career.

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    "We have players that are more visible than others and they need to deal with that, with the high priority and pressure," Santos said in a press conference ahead of Portugal's second Group H game against Uruguay.

    "They express themselves in one particular way. There are players who are more extroverted, those more introverted, the most important thing is they play as a group, play together as one team.

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    "Little by little he has gained more experience, and understands this pressure, but we also take into account other players, not only Cristiano Ronaldo."

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    Asked if he would consider starting the trio together, Santos replied: "Of course it's possible, we did not come here with labels of one, two or three starters.

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    "That's what we did against Ghana. In the first half we played very well, Ghana could not enter our area. In the last 30 minutes we should have been more aggressive because I know my players are capable. We were perhaps overconfident, but we can be confident if we are more aggressive.

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