Manchester United eased into the Europa League quarterfinals after a Marcus Rashford goal secured a 1-0 win at Real Betis on Thursday to complete a 5-1 aggregate win in the round of 16.
Trailing by three goals after the first leg at Old Trafford a week ago, Betis needed an improbable result back in Seville to reach the last eight. The side fifth in LaLiga threw everything at their Premier League opponents but couldn’t find the breakthrough thanks to a series of saves from David de Gea.
Rashford then killed off any hope of a miraculous comeback in the 55th minute, firing in a superb strike from almost 30 yards. The goal was Rashford’s 25th in European competition for Man United, putting him sixth on the club’s all-time list and one clear of Cristiano Ronaldo‘s tally.
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With his 26th goal in all competitions this season, the 25-year-old is now third among players from Europe’s top five leagues, behind only Man City’s Erling Haaland (39) and Paris Saint-Germain‘s Kylian Mbappe (31).
United, already winners of the Carabao Cup and with an FA Cup quarterfinal to come against Fulham on Sunday, will now await their Europa League quarterfinal opponent in Friday’s draw.
Despite the threat of suspension for the first leg of the quarterfinals if either picked up another yellow card, Man United boss Erik ten Hag opted to start with both Casemiro and Bruno Fernandes.
That experience looked to be needed as Betis pushed forward in search of early goals.
Twice in the first half Juanmi got in behind the United defense only for De Gea to come to the visitors’ rescue. In between those two golden opportunities, veteran midfielder Joaquin struck the outside of the post with a curling effort from distance.
On the stroke of half-time, Facundo Pellistri, making his first Man United start, fired a shot against the post with Wout Weghorst unable to stretch a toe onto the ball to turn it into the net.
De Gea was again called into action to parry away an Ayoze Perez header from a corner early in the second half as Betis continued to threaten, but it was United that delivered the breakthrough.
Moments after uncharacteristically blazing a clear-cut chance high into the stands, Rashford added another memorable moment to his career-best season.
The England forward struck a devilish shot complete with swerve and dip to leave Betis goalkeeper Rui Silva with no chance before the ball nestled in the corner of the net.
With the extra goal cushion, Ten Hag took the chance to hand a breather to Rashford and Fernandes as United marched on.