Real Sociedad 0-1 Man Utd: Teenager Alejandro Garnacho scores but Red Devils finish second in Europa League group

Real Sociedad 0-1 Man Utd: Teenager Alejandro Garnacho scores but Red Devils finish second in Europa League group

8 min

Real Sociedad 0-1 Man Utd: Teenager Alejandro Garnacho scores but Red Devils finish second in Europa League group

Manchester United's Alejandro Garnacho in action against Real Sociedad in the Europa League
Manchester United signed Alejandro Garnacho from Atletico Madrid in 2020

Teenager Alejandro Garnacho scored an outstanding goal as Manchester United ended Real Sociedad’s flawless Europa League record, but had to settle for second place in Group E.

Erik ten Hag’s side needed to win by two goals or more in Spain to finish top of the group, and their spirits were lifted when Garnacho showed terrific pace before firing Cristiano Ronaldo’s pass into the corner of the net.

It was a wonderful moment for the 18-year-old Madrid-born winger, who was making his second start for the Red Devils.

Ronaldo missed a great chance to double the lead with a lob on to the roof of the net, before David de Gea produced a fine double save to keep out Andoni Gorosabel and Pablo Marin.

United finish the group stage level on 15 points with Sociedad, who advance to the last 16 with a superior goal difference.

The Red Devils will now play in February’s knockout-round play-offs, where they will face one of the clubs dropping down from the Champions League.

Teams they could meet over two legs include Barcelona, Ronaldo’s former club Juventus, Ajax, who Ten Hag managed for five years, and Ukraine’s Shakhtar Donetsk.

Bayer Leverkusen, Sporting Lisbon, Red Bull Salzburg and Sevilla are also in Monday’s draw for the knockout round.

Cristiano Ronaldo reacts against Real Sociedad in the Europa League
There are 19 years and 147 days between the ages of goalscorer Alejandro Garnacho (18 years and 125 days) and Cristiano Ronaldo (37 years and 271 days), who provided the assist

Maguire finishes up front

Had United scored one more goal without conceding, they would have advanced as group winners and avoided two extra games in February.

They were in complete control in the first half but did not manage a single shot on target after half-time, and ended the match with substitute Harry Maguire up front alongside Ronaldo and Marcus Rashford.

On a wet night in the Basque Country, Garnacho became United’s youngest non-English scorer in Europe at the age of 18 years and 125 days.

Four weeks ago the Argentina youth international scored a late winner for United’s under-21 side in the EFL Trophy at Barrow, and last Thursday made his full debut in the 3-0 Europa League win over Sheriff Tiraspol at Old Trafford.

In San Sebastian, Garnacho showed what a talent he is with a composed 17th-minute finish after receiving Ronaldo’s well-timed pass outside the penalty area before finishing inside the box.

After Ten Hag revealed following the Sheriff Tiraspol match that he was not happy with Garnacho earlier in the season, Bruno Fernandes said there had been an improvement in the youngster’s attitude.

“He is still only young but he is doing very well,” said Fernandes after the game.

“At the beginning of the season he was not at his best. He didn’t have the best attitude that he should have on tour. But he is deserving of his chances now.”

Garnacho’s goal was the perfect start for Ten Hag’s side and the youngster was presented with another opportunity but slipped and fired over the bar.

Real Sociedad were missing several players because of injury, including four-time Premier League winner with Manchester City David Silva.

Yet they just about did enough to finish top of the group in a tetchy game that saw a flurry of yellow cards in the second half.

“Of course we are disappointed we didn’t score two goals,” said Ten Hag, whose side are unbeaten in their past nine domestic and European games.

“The last 10 minutes we got the ball in the box and created a good chance. We had to take risks.”

Player of the match

GarnachoAlejandro Garnacho

Real Sociedad

  1. Squad number5Player nameZubeldia

  2. Squad number17Player nameNavarro

  3. Squad number15Player nameRico

  4. Squad number34Player nameMagunacelaya

  5. Squad number24Player nameLe Normand

  6. Squad number42Player nameMarín

  7. Squad number6Player nameElustondo

  8. Squad number3Player nameZubimendi

  9. Squad number20Player namePacheco

  10. Squad number23Player nameMéndez

  11. Squad number16Player nameGuevara

  12. Squad number8Player nameMerino

  13. Squad number19Player nameSørloth

  14. Squad number18Player nameGorosabel

  15. Squad number9Player nameFernández

  16. Squad number1Player nameÁlex Remiro


Real Sociedad

Formation 4-3-1-2

  • 1Remiro Gargallo
  • 18GorosabelSubstituted forElustondoat 58′minutes
  • 24Le Normand
  • 20Pacheco
  • 15Rico
  • 23MéndezBooked at 64minsSubstituted forZubeldiaat 83′minutes
  • 3Zubimendi
  • 8Merino
  • 42MarínSubstituted forNavarroat 59′minutes
  • 19SørlothSubstituted forMagunacelayaat 83′minutes
  • 9FernándezBooked at 73minsSubstituted forGuevaraat 73′minutes


  • 2Sola
  • 4Illarramendi
  • 5Zubeldia
  • 6Elustondo
  • 13Zubiaurre
  • 16Guevara
  • 17Navarro
  • 22Turrientes
  • 30González de Zárate
  • 32Marrero
  • 33Karrikaburu
  • 34Magunacelaya

Man Utd

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1de Gea
  • 20DalotBooked at 87mins
  • 2LindelöfSubstituted forMcTominayat 58′minutes
  • 6MartínezBooked at 62mins
  • 23Shaw
  • 18Casemiro
  • 14EriksenSubstituted forFredat 82′minutes
  • 8Bruno Fernandes
  • 34van de BeekSubstituted forRashfordat 58′minutes
  • 49GarnachoSubstituted forMaguireat 82′minutes
  • 7Cristiano RonaldoBooked at 71mins


  • 5Maguire
  • 10Rashford
  • 12Malacia
  • 17Fred
  • 28Pellistri
  • 29Wan-Bissaka
  • 31Dúbravka
  • 36Elanga
  • 39McTominay
  • 47Shoretire
  • 50Vítek
  • 55Iqbal

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