Manchester United needed to win by two or more goals in Spain, but they did not do enough despite beating Real Sociedad 1-0.
Alejandro Garnacho’s strike to give Manchester United a 1-0 Europa League victory over Real Sociedad on Thursday was in vain as the Spanish side retained Group E’s top spot.
A win by two goals or more would have seen United progress as group winners thanks to an excellent display against each other and Garnach’s early finish fueled hopes that Erik ten Haga’s side would achieve just that.
But a resolute defensive display from La Real saw them do enough to prevent United getting a second, despite coming under increasing pressure later on.
Ten of The Hague’s men progress but will be forced into a two-legged play-off with one of the teams eliminated from the UEFA Champions League, on a list that includes Barcelona and Juventus.
La Real started the brighter but United got into the game and took the lead in the 17th minute. Garnacho latched on to Cristiano Ronaldo’s ball and held off a defender before diving in to take the lead from a tight angle.
David de Gea pulled off a stunning double save before the break to keep United ahead, tipping Andoni Gorosabel’s long-range strike at full range before somehow blocking Pablo Marino’s rebound.
United still needed another goal but La Real threatened at the other end 16 minutes from time, substitute Ander Guevara forcing a smart save from De Gea with his low drive.
La Real continued to defend tenaciously and restricted United to few chances, eventually seeing out the game to secure top spot and a place in the last 16, while the Red Devils will face a nervous play-off.
Real Sociedad vs Manchester United player ratings – Europa League
Real Sociedad player ratings (4-4-2)
GK: Alex Remiro (6); RB: Andoni Gorosabel (6.5), CB: Robin Le Normand (6.5), CB: Jon Pacheco (7), LB: Diego Rico (7.5); RM: Pablo Marin (6.5), CM: Martin Zubimendi (6.5), CM: Mikel Merino (7), LM: Brais Mendez (7); ST: Alexander Sorloth (6), ST: Carlos Fernandez (6)
SUB: Robert Navarro (5), Aritz Elustondo (5), Ander Guevara (5), Igor Zubeldia (N/A), Jon Magunacelaya (N/A)
Manchester United player ratings (4-3-1-2)
GK: David de Gea – 7/10 – Great double stop on the cusp of half time to deny Gorosabel and Marin. Produced some important sprawling stops in the second half too.
RB: Diogo Dalot – 7/10 – Kept things tight on his side while offering a decent threat on the right. Got booked as his frustrations boiled over late on.
CB: Victor Lindelof – 7/10 – Really dominant in the air and didn’t misplace a pass before making way early in the second half.
CB: Lisandro Martinez – 7/10 – Proactive and quick to snuff out danger. Made a few vital blocks but also got booked – he will miss United’s next game in Europe.
LB: Luke Shaw – 7/10 – One awkward slip gave Sociedad a two-on-one which they scuppered, sparing Shaw’s blushes. Recovered the ball frequently and bought a few fouls.
CM: Donny van de Beek – 4/10 – A surprise start for the Dutchman. Could never get involved as much as he would have liked and made little impact.
CM: Casemiro – 7/10 – Continually broke up Sociedad’s attacks with tackles and interceptions.
CM: Christian Eriksen – 5/10 – Not his most overtly influential game. No key passes and lost the ball three times before coming off.
AM: Bruno Fernandes – 7/10 – Some nice aware touches to set up his teammates. Surprisingly shot-shy, not getting any attempts off on goal.
ST: Cristiano Ronaldo – 7/10 – Fed Garnacho to rifle in the opener. Would have been disappointed to see his lob go just over. No telling moment came in the second half for Ronaldo to send United into the last 16 like he would have liked.
ST: Alejandro Garnacho – 7/10 – Wonderful confidence in his dribbling and finished brilliantly for the opener.
SUB: Marcus Rashford (58′ for Van de Beek) – 5/10 – Not as many opportunities to stretch his legs.
SUB: Scott McTominay (58′ for Lindelof) – 5/10 – A few loose moments in possession.
SUB: Fred (82′ for Eriksen) – 6/10 – Added energy to United’s midfield late on.
SUB: Harry Maguire (82′ for Garnacho) – 5/10 – Stuck up front late on as an auxiliary striker. Won a few headers.
Manager: Erik ten Hag – 7/10 – To get earn victory at La Liga’s fifth-best side is a good effort from United and Ten Hag, but requiring an extra game will not be received well. However, they held off large amounts of pressure well and were unlucky not to get the win they needed.