Manchester United suffer Europa League loss to Real Sociedad
- UEFA Europa League 2022/23 season started on a high note on Thursday, September 9
- Manchester United hosted La Liga’s Real Sociedad at Old Trafford on Thursday night
- The Premier League outfit suffered a one goal loss to the home side in their opening fixture
A Brais Mendez penalty elevated La Liga side Real Sociedad to a 1-0 win against Manchester United in their Europa League Group E opener on Thursday, which followed an impeccably observed tribute to Queen Elizabeth II.
Old Trafford fell silent before kick-off to honor Her Majesty, who passed on earlier before kick off in the day at the age of 96, while players from both sides wore black armbands in tribute to the monarch.
Cristiano Ronaldo who made just his second start of the season – went close on a number of occasions for the hosts, who registered just three shots on target in the whole game.
Erik Ten Hag’s side four-game winning streak was ended shortly before the hour mark when Mendez slotted home from 12 yards after substitute Lisandro Martinez had handled in the area.
United were comfortably the better side in the opening half an hour, yet they failed to capitalize out on any clear opportunities.
Ronaldo thought he had given his side the lead 10 minutes before the interval, but his powerful header was ruled out after he had strayed into an offside position.
The Portuguese superstar inexplicably headed wide with the goal at his mercy immediately after the restart, before lashing just over from outside the penalty area.
La Real went ahead in the 58th minute when Mendez powered home from the spot after David Silva’s shot had struck Martinez’s arm.
Erik ten Hag brought on Bruno Fernandes at half-time, and Jadon Sancho and Alejandro Garnacho in the second half, but United were unable to find a way past the visitors’ stubborn backline in the closing stages.
This defeat was United’s first in 19 home matches in the Europa League – a run that started with victory over FC Midtjylland in February 2016.
Meanwhile, it was Real Sociedad’s first-ever win against English opponents in Europe at the seventh time of asking.
Mendez put in an industrious display and deserved his status as match winner. The former Celta Vigo man scored with one of two shots – the most of any La Real player – while his total of two key passes was not bettered by any other player on the pitch.
Antony lit up Old Trafford with a debut goal against Arsenal at the weekend, but the former Ajax winger was a subdued presence here. He had just one shot and failed to make a single key pass before he was replaced by Sancho with 20 minutes remaining.
Both teams return to domestic action on Sunday, with the Premier League side being away to Crystal Palace in the Premier League and Real Sociedad visiting Getafe in LaLiga.