Victor Lindelof and Marcus Rashford stood out as Manchester United beat Granada 2-0 in the first leg of their UEFA Europa League quarter-final.
Granada were quick off the blocks and threatened with some moves in the early exchanges, but did not have the end product to trouble Manchester United too much. The Red Devils then duly took control of the proceedings after the early onslaught by the hosts and they would go on to break the deadlock just past the half-hour mark.
Released by a 70-yard long pass by Victor Lindelof that bypassed the Granada defence, Marcus Rashford ran through to the opposition goal before finding the back of the net with a fine finish. Thereafter, though, the chances came few and far between for both sides and it looked like United would claim a one-goal win before their advantage was doubled late on.
Brought down inside the Granada box, Bruno Fernandes stepped up to take the penalty and made no mistake in finding the back of the net, even though Rui Silva did get his hand on his effort. Having secured a 2-0 win, Manchester United are now a step closer to the UEFA Europa League semi-finals, and The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men.
David de Gea: 7/10
Back in the starting lineup at long last, de Gea was not tested a great deal even if a couple of efforts from Kenedy stung his palms. Nevertheless, he would be happy to have kept a clean sheet on his return to the side.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka: 7/10
Aaron Wan-Bissaka was as Aaron Wan-Bissaka usually is. Unassuming in his display at the back, the full-back kept a lid on Kenedy’s output and his defensive numbers were quite impressive – 4 duels won, 4 clearances, 3 interceptions and 3 tackles. As always, he did not pose a great deal of threat going foward, but he did win some important balls.
Victor Lindelof: 8/10
Victor Lindelof’s game by numbers vs. Granada:
90% pass accuracy
6 ball recoveries
5 long passes attempted
2 long passes completed
2 chances created
0x dribbled past
Ice cool in Spain. 🧊 pic.twitter.com/YnkUS9Qwla
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) April 8, 2021
The clear standout among the defenders in the game, Lindelof was a rock at the heart of the Manchester United defence. Saw a lot of the ball and utilised it well, particularly when he set up Marcus Rashford for the opener with a peach of a long pass. Made 4 clearances and never really seem like he was in trouble. Job well done.
Harry Maguire: 7/10
Set to miss the second leg after being booked, Maguire was a solid customer at the back. The Manchester United captain was rarely troubled and even took some opportunities to charge forward and take the Granada defenders on. Made 6 clearances and won as many duels. The suspension would give him some much-needed rest.
Luke Shaw: 6/10
Shaw’s evening lasted for just one half after he was booked by the referee, which will force him to miss the second leg. Was his usual industrious self on both ends of the pitch, even if he did not have the end product on this occasion.
Paul Pogba: 6/10
Once again, Pogba seemed to be some way off his best levels, even though he did present himself as a useful outlet from the middle of the park. Did not link up as well as he usually does with Bruno Fernandes, but managed an 87 percent passing rate while also playing in a couple of key passes.
Scott McTominay: 6/10
Like Shaw and Maguire, McTominay was booked by the referee as well and will miss the second leg due to a suspension. As for his performance on the pitch, McTominay stood strong amid the early Granada assault and did well to hand Manchester United the control as the game progressed.
Daniel James: 6/10
A game of hits and misses for James. The Welsh international did carry a threat and played a key pass a well. Was always full of his usual running but also flitted in and out of the game at times. Fouled a couple of times and bizarrely managed to injure Domingos Duarte on one such instance.
Bruno Fernandes: 6/10
While Bruno Fernandes did score a late goal from the spot, he lacked the cutting edge and did not fashion too many openings. Still looked like the most creative player on the pitch and managed 4 key passes, but the fatigue is clearly starting to affect him. Lost possession a bit too many times (18) but that has become the Bruno Fernandes way, really.
Marcus Rashford: 8/10
Part of the starting lineup despite major concerns over his fitness, Rashford looked to be struggling early on, as he could be seen hobbling. However, the English international still managed to put a shift in and his brilliant first touch and run at goal after receiving a long pass from Lindelof ended with him becoming the first Manchester United player since Wayne Rooney to score 20+ goals in successive seasons.
Marcus Rashford is the first Manchester United player to score 20+ goals in consecutive seasons since Wayne Rooney in 2010 🌟 pic.twitter.com/R3cyTulA1t
— B/R Football (@brfootball) April 8, 2021
Mason Greenwood: 6/10
Not as influential as he was this past weekend against Brighton & Hove Albion, Greenwood flitted in and out of the game, showing that there is still some way to go before he can become the first-choice striker for Manchester United. Did not attempt a single effort on goal, and will hope to do better next time around.
Alex Telles: 7/10
Sent on in place of Shaw at half-time, Telles spent large part of the second half in the Granada half and sent in some dangerous-looking crosses into the box, only for none of them to be met by a teammate.
Edinson Cavani: 6/10
On for Rashford, Cavani led the line well for Manchester United, holding up the ball smartly to bring his teammates into the game. However, the veteran striker should have done better to convert a dangerous cross by Telles.
Nemanja Matic: N/A
On for Pogba, Matic spent the final 15 minutes on the pitch and helped see the game out, although he was one of many who were booked a bit harshly by the referee on the night.
Donny van de Beek: N/A
A late introduction, van de Beek did not get many opportunities to showcase his best abilities, as Manchester United saw the game out.