Manchester United eased through to the last 16 of the Europa League but their second-leg tie against Real Sociedad was void of quality.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side had the job done in Turin where they dismantled their La Liga 4-0 opponents in a game that was tipped to be a huge challenge.
The Reds couldn’t replicate their brilliance at Old Trafford this evening but there were some positives to take from a less than memorable evening.
Undoubtedly, one of Solskjaer’s main concerns tonight would have been to avoid injuries to key players but United came off relatively unscathed.
Bruno Fernandes started as captain and many fans were worried about the unnecessary risk of including the totemic Portuguese playmaker but his work was done at half-time.
Solskjaer told BT Sport post-match that James felt a tweak and will be assessed but Edinson Cavani and Scott McTominay are also close to contention so there will be a strong squad to choose from at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea.
Dean Henderson didn’t concede a goal in either leg against La Real and it will frustrate him that he is unlikely to feature again until the next round.
Things could have been different, with Mikel Oyarzabal missing the target with a penalty, but the England goalkeeper was protected well by Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly as Harry Maguire was afforded a rare rest.
Maguire will return against Chelsea and while Bailly impressed, Lindelof is likely to retain his place against Chelsea.
Game time for youngsters
United ended the game fielding half a team of academy players.
Shola Shoretire became the youngest European player for United since Norman Whiteside, days after his first league appearance and Amad was given half-an-hour of game time.
On reflection, most supporters would have liked to see the pair start in a risk-free game but it was still encouraging to see the teenagers getting valuable minutes in a first-team setting.
Shoretire’s fellow academy graduate Axel Tuanzebe will have been frustrated not to start but made an impact in an unfamiliar defensive midfield role.
Tuanzebe was so unfortunate not to be denied his first goal in a red shirt but will be desperate to get more minutes in the coming weeks.