United beats Betis 4-1 in rousing response to Liverpool rout
MANCHESTER, England (AP) – Chants of ‘Bruno! Bruno!” echoed at Old Trafford as the healing process for Manchester United began.
The wounds of Sunday’s humiliating 7-0 defeat by Liverpool remain fresh. But a 4-1 win over Real Betis in the Europa League was an encouraging reaction from Erik ten Hag’s players.
First and foremost Bruno Fernandes, who scored one goal and was involved in two other goals in Thursday’s round of 16 first leg.
“I think he was the best player on the pitch, that showed his personality,” said United manager Ten Hag.
The Dutchman had given his team a chance to make amends with Anfield by naming an unchanged line-up. It had the desired effect.
Marcus Rashford scored his 26th goal of the season.
Antony swept a shot into the top corner from long range. And Wout Weghorst, who faced backlash on social media for touching the famous ‘This is Anfield’ sign, showed his emotion as he fired in United’s fourth.
But perhaps no one needed redemption more than Fernandes, who took the brunt of the criticism after collapsing against Liverpool. On that occasion, his efforts were met with approval from both United fans and Ten Hag.
“Bruno was fantastic. He led the team with his game control and passing and then scored,” said Ten Hag.
The Portugal international sped towards the Stretford End after giving United a 3-1 lead in the 58th minute and covered his ears as if to shut out the noise that followed Sunday’s defeat.
There was a moment when he let his enthusiasm spill over with a late tackle on Betis goalkeeper Claudio Bravo but he channeled his passion in the right way that night, putting United within quarter-finals reach.
Former United captain-turned-TV analyst Gary Neville called Fernandes’ performance against Liverpool a “disgrace”.
He was United’s driving force against Betis.
The Old Trafford crowd chanted his name loudly as he took to the field to confirm he still had their support.
It was his cross that gave the lead after six minutes when Luiz Felipe deflected the ball into Rashford’s lane. The English striker drove into the penalty area and whipped a shot into the top corner.
The game was even at half-time after loan Leicester striker Ayoze Perez fired a low shot past David de Gea in the 32nd. Perez was denied just a second when Fernandes’ tackle deflected his shot to the post before the break.
Antony put United back ahead seven minutes into the second half with a curl from outside the box after being brought in by Fernandes. United’s No 8 went from assist to goalscorer when he headed into Luke Shaw’s corner to take complete control of his team.
But perhaps the biggest cheer of the evening came when Weghorst whipped the ball home in the 82nd after missing a host of earlier chances. Raw emotion was evident as he celebrated just his second goal since joining Burnley on loan in January and his first at Old Trafford.
Premier League leaders Arsenal were beaten 2-2 at Sporting Lisbon in the Europa League round of 16 first leg.
Hidemasa Morita’s own goal in the 62nd minute salvaged Arsenal’s tie for a place in the quarter-finals ahead of the second leg at Emirates Stadium next Thursday.
“There are things to improve but we’ve shown a lot of resilience,” said Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta.
Morita deflected Granit Xhaka’s long-range shot into his own net.
Arsenal dominated early possession and took the lead through William Saliba. The defender headed in the first set from a Fábio Vieira corner at Arsenal to capitalize on the early pressure in the 22nd minute.
Sporting equalized with an almost identical response as Arsenal’s defense looked vulnerable.
Gonçalo Inácio headed in past goalkeeper Matt Turner from a Marcus Edwards corner 12 minutes after Saliba’s goal.
It was Sporting’s first goal against Arsenal in their fifth meeting in European competition.
Ángel Di María headed in the second-half winner in Juventus’ 1-0 first-leg win over Freiburg.
The 35-year-old has scored four goals in his last two Europa League games.
Juventus were without midfielder Paul Pogba, who was dropped for ‘disciplinary reasons’.
Elsewhere, Joan Jordán and Erik Lamela scored in six-time champions Sevilla’s 2-0 win over Fenerbahçe.
Ezequiel Bullaude equalized late to secure Feyenoord a 1-1 draw at Shakhtar Donetsk, the last Ukrainian side to remain in European competitions this season. Yaroslav Rakitskyy scored for the hosts in Warsaw because of the Russian military invasion of Ukraine.
Substitute Sven Michel saved Union Berlin’s 3-3 draw with Union Saint-Gilloise with a goal a minute from time in the German capital.
At the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, José Mourinho’s Roma took a step towards progression with a 2-0 win over Real Sociedad.
Tammy Abraham set up the first goal for Stephan El Shaarawy to end a quick first-half counterattack before substitute defender Marash Kumbulla doubled the advantage with a close-range header.
Bayer Leverkusen had the same advantage over Ferencváros after Kerem Demirbay opened the scoring in the 10th and Edmond Tapsoba scored the second for the hosts.
EUROPE CONFERENCE LEAGUE
Michail Antonio scored twice in the first half to lead West Ham 2-0 past AEK Larnaca in Cyprus.
Despite a troubled season in the Premier League, the Hammers have cruised with a perfect record in third-rate European competition.
Fiorentina beat Turkey’s Sivasspor 1-0, Nice beat Moldova’s Sheriff 1-0, while Poland’s Lech Poznan beat Swedish club Djurgarden 2-0. There were also draws: Basel and Slovan Bratislava 2-2, Gent and Istanbul Basaksehir 1-1.
Janicek reported from Prague
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