High competition does not allow the slightest error. United punished a worthy Granada with a Rashford delight. He then benefited from an absurd play by Eteki at the last minute, when he hit Bruno Fernandes inside the area. The Portuguese striker himself made the second penalty to capture a 0-2 on the scoreboard, excessive for the merits of a good United. The result is that Granada, who did not see the 0-1 with bad eyes, is practically forced to a feat to come back next week at Old Trafford in the return of the Europa League quarter-finals. Granada competed against a European football giant and, nevertheless, they left with a very difficult result to overcome. United always dominated, perhaps without many chances, but with an obvious sense of superiority.
“The good times will return.” This is how Granada fans must have thought 15 years ago, when their team played in the Third Division. Now, the historic Manchester United visited Los Cármenes in the Europa League quarters. Times of happiness for the Andalusian team, capable of sneaking into the top eight of the second continental competition and playing a historic match.
A clash that United, through their coach, Solskjaer, took as seriously as possible. He played De Gea and Rashford lined up despite his physical problems. The Europa League is the only title to which the English team, second in the Premier League, 14 points behind City, can aspire. An astonishing rookie Granada recovered Neva, and Diego Martínez settled on Vallejo in place of Germán Sánchez. It was soon observed how well the Andalusian team had worked the crash.
Aware that United are lethal with room to run, especially with that gazelle that is Rashford, Granada combined a quick high pressure off the ball from the English with a most intelligent retreat. Well equipped in the center with Gonalons and Herrera, Diego Martínez’s men sought to surprise United after stealing the ball and passing to Kenedy and Puertas. But it’s not easy to put a great team like United in trouble. He has such quality players, the case of Scotsman McTominay and Bruno Fernandes, that he changed his skin to feel comfortable in a more dominating role. More problems had Pogba, booked after eight minutes.
Granada defended well, with Greenwood very covered, but lacked game to threaten United, too comfortable. In addition, it is a team with resources. Rashford warned in the 27th minute with a good shot. The blow came in the 31st minute in a play that destroyed Granada’s defensive system. An attack by the Andalusians ended in a kickoff. The ball reached Lindelof, who drew a great pass of about 50 meters behind the back of the Granada defense. There Rashford emerged to perform a dream check and smoothly beat Silva on his way out. The international made an ode to uncheck. A single mistake back plus Rashford’s talent condemned Granada. It is the law that prevails in the elite. In the final stretch of the first half, the faith of the Andalusian team showed, which put United in trouble in well-worked actions from set pieces. In one of them, Herrera sent the ball to the post.
Granada tried to attack with a head in the second half. The challenge was to seek the equalizer without conceding a second almost definitive goal. While McTominay supported United, the Andalusian team looked for the tying goal with some determination. United, a battleship, responded with the entry into the field of players of the level of Cavani and Matic. De Gea responded well to Kenedy’s timid shots, replaced in the final stretch by Machís. United found too much reward after an innocent action by Eteki, who committed a penalty on Bruno Fernandes for the Portuguese to make it 0-2.