Manchester United comfortably defeated Granada away from home after a late goal gave the Red Devils breathing space going into the second leg next week. United now only have the tie at Old Trafford of the UEFA Europa League quarter-final to play for, before the semi-final of the competition beckons.
The game wasn't the most eventful for viewing as both teams started off very conservative. United worked themselves into the game after Harry Maguire was forced into early action, the hosts with the first attack, Maguire scrambling across the box clearing the ball upfield. The game was vastly low tempo from the Reds, but the Red Devils did break the deadlock in the 31st minute just before Marcus Rashford went close in the 27th minute, curling one from the edge of the box aiming for the top corner, just a little too much on the shot as it flew over.
United registered their first goal 14 minutes before half time, Rashford grabbing the first goal of the tie. The attacker was picked out by Victor Lindelof's long ball, an exquisite first touch teed up the England international for a shot, one he casually placed into the bottom corner. Rashford was to soar in Spain once again. The last time United won in Spain, Rashford was also on target in this competition in the semi final first leg against Celta Vigo in 2017.
The tight affair in Granada lasted late into the second half, the tempo never really getting going. A late penalty for United would make the win feel a bit more reassuring ahead of the second leg, Bruno Fernandes netting from the spot. It wasn't the best of penalties from the number 18 with Rui Silva managing to get a hand to the ball, although thankfully it squeezed through his hands and ended up in the back of the net.
The match was not the best from United's perspective, the Red Devils very conservative, but Granada holding on for atleast a draw right till the end until United broke hearts by doubling the lead. Man United had 13 shots on goal during the game compared to Granada's 11, with three shots on target to the home sides three. The possession count for the Red Devils was much higher with a 68% to 32% ratio at Los Carmenes. The total pass count for the Red Devils was a big 518 to Granada's 237. The Manchester side also had the better passing accuracy of 86% to the hosts 59%.
Solskjaer was very happy with the clean and the spirit the players showed on the pitch from start to finish in the contest
United now have Granada to welcome to Old Trafford next Thursday night.
"Its a clean sheet and David De Gea wasn't really that troubled. There was moments in there that could have been chances but I thought we defended well when we had to and I think 2-0 is a great lead. Is there anyone I would pick out? Yes, definitely, Victor Lindelof, he kept us glued together. He was good on the ball, took command and what a pass for the first goal. It was a fantastic goal all round. We've seen Marcus Rashford a few times bring it down like this. He had one before against Sheffield United I think, from a pass from Victor Lindelof aswell. Very, very happy with the way he took it. Hopefully the players that went off will be ok. Of course Marcus Rashford was a bit sore over the last few days, so we didn't want to aggravate that too much, but apart from that we should be ok. It was not a perfect night. We got three yellow cards and three suspensions. 2-0 is a very good result. We know how difficult it is to come to Spain. We've got to play well to get a result. Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes have been exceptional, so important for us. It was a very good run by Rashford, takes the ball fantastically. Bruno is so confident on penalties even though the keeper almost saved it. Same as always in terms of attitude for next week. We want to win every game. It's still a young team, a learning team. We have to improve all the time. Football catches you so quickly if you rest. We cant have any other approach."