Manchester United 0-0 Real Sociedad: Job done as Reds progress

Manchester United completed the formalities of our last 32 Europa Cup tie with Real Sociedad to seal a spot in Friday’s last 16 draw.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side did all the hard work in the first leg with a 4-0 victory in neutral Italy and finished the job in a match played at testimonial pace. On a night that won’t live long in the memory, here is what we learned from Old Trafford

Bizarre selection from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Eyebrows were certainly raised before kick-off when the United boss named a stronger than expected line-up. With a trip to Chelsea looming large, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Victor Lindelof, Fred, Anthony Martial and – most baffling of all – Bruno Fernandes all started despite the Reds unassailable advantage. The former and the latter were taken off at half-time but the introduction of Marcus Rashford seemed another pointless decision. Fortunately, no injuries were sustained so Solskjaer got away with it.

History made despite the deadest of rubbers

With United cruising and the outcome of the tie never really in doubt, Solskjaer was able to hand some minutes to several of his “fledglings” – the next generation of Reds talent, fresh off the Carrington conveyor belt. The match may have been uneventful but, in the 76th minute, there was still time for a little piece of history. Shola Shoretire had been handed the briefest of Premier League debuts against Newcastle on Sunday and was summoned from the bench here as United’s fifth substitute. At 17 years and 23 days old, Shoretire became the Reds youngest ever player to represent the Reds in European competition (as per regular statto Statman Dave) – Solskjaer following in his mentor’s footsteps by maintaining one of United’s finest traditions.

Victor Lindelof grabs the headlines… again

Like him or loathe him, Victor Lindelof is never far from the headlines. Stationed alongside Eric Bailly with his skipper given a rare night off, this game saw both the best and the worst of the Swede. The Iceman’s intervention was needed early on as he denied a Sociedad goal with a superb lunging challenge as he stretched every sinew to get the ball away. If that was excellent, his next major moment was certainly less so. Axel Tuanzebe thought he had put the Reds ahead with his first senior goal only for VAR to rule the goal out with Lindelof’s flying knee – and his best Bruce Lee impression – denying Axel his major landmark.

Job done as Reds await last 16 opponents

United will be one of four British sides in the hat (a strange expression, the balls are always pulled out of a bowl, not a hat) for the last 16 draw on Friday. Arsenal, Spurs and Rangers are there but Leicester are not having been knocked out Czech side Slavia Prague. It’s an open draw and there’s no country protection so the Reds could face either of their divisional rivals or Steven Gerrard’s high flying Rangers in a Battle of Britain. Other names to watch out for include Zlatan’s AC Milan, Ajax, Roma and Villarreal.

A rare easy night for players, fans and coaches alike

Supporting and watching Manchester United should come with a health warning – it’s certainly not a casual pastime for anyone of a nervous disposition. This club make the easy seem difficult and there must be an unwritten code of conduct that making things hard for ourselves comes with the territory. Here, though, with United 4-0 up and the tie in the bag from the first leg, this was a night in which we went through the motions, never looked troubled and never needed to get out of first gear, keeping plenty in the tank for Chelsea away next. A comfortable night all round – we went through, kept a clean sheet, blooded some young kids and – perhaps most importantly of all – no one got any injuries. Job done.

Read more: Manchester United have three positives to take from dull Real Sociedad draw

More Stories Bruno Fernandes Manchester United Marcus Rashford Ole Gunnar Solskjaer Real Sociedad Shola Shoretire Victor Lindelof