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Manchester United Consigned To Europa League Play-Off Round Despite 1-0 Win Against Real Sociedad

Manchester United will compete in the knockout play-off round of the Europa League despite winning at Real Sociedad on Thursday night.Chasing a two-goal win to usurp the La Liga side at the top of Group E, Alejandro Garnacho gave the Red Devils the quick start they needed and his first ever senior club goal by finishing off Cristiano Ronaldo’s pass.A 1-0 loss would have kept Sociedad top but they still pushed on for an equaliser themselves, making for a fascinating final 20 minutes, though the scoreline remained unchanged at full time.The hosts showed their attacking teeth early on as Mikel Merino fired into the side netting from an offside position, with United struggling to push up the field during the opening tussles.Garnacho gave Sociedad an early sighter of his abilities with a mazy run before cutting inside and overhitting the cross, but he was much more assured when he was sent through in the 17th minute.Ronaldo stretched to bring Bruno Fernandes’ header down and play in the Argentine, who fired in high for the opener to fuel United’s hopes of the two-goal win they needed to reach the last 16 and avoid the play-offs.

Garnacho again went close when latching onto a ball from Fernandes, but he lost his footing when taking the shot and sliced the ball well wide.Sociedad looked threatening on the counter, breaking quickly as Alexander Sorloth found Pablo Marin on the edge of the box, but a deflected strike trickled tamely towards David de Gea.Ronaldo chased a long ball and beat defender Jon Pacheco to go through on goal, though he was forced to go for the lob with goalkeeper Alex Remiro closing him down. The effort struck the roof of the net.A wonderful double save from De Gea was needed to preserve United’s lead going into the break, the Spaniard excellently denying Andoni Gorosabel before Marin’s follow up struck his head and bounced over.The second half was frantic in nature as Sociedad attempted to puncture United whenever they chased the crucial second goal. Brais Mendez enjoyed a few battles with Luke Shaw out wide, while Robert Navarro overhit a pass to Carlos Fernandez which would have put the striker in on goal.Solid blocks from Lisandro Martinez and Luke Shaw were needed as the game approached the final ten minutes. United applied the pressure in second-half injury time, but no solid chances presented themselves.The win means United finish below Sociedad on goal difference and must negotiate a knockout play-off tie against one of the third-placed Champions League sides.

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