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Manchester United 0-1 Real Sociedad: Controversial penalty sees Erik ten Hag’s side lose Europa League opener

A controversial penalty saw Manchester United’s four-game winning run come to an end as Real Sociedad secured a 1-0 win at Old Trafford in the Europa League.

Following the death of Queen Elizabeth II earlier in the evening, both sets of players wore black armbands and a minute’s silence was impeccably observed by all those inside the ground ahead of kick-off.

UEFA decided it was too late to postpone the fixture but Old Trafford was understandably below full capacity and a subdued atmosphere reflected the mood of the nation. Announcements were low-key, while advertising boards were black with branding toned down.

Image:
Manchester United’s players and supporters during a minute’s silence for Queen Elizabeth II

The game’s only goal was scored on 59 minutes in controversial circumstances. Lisandro Martinez, introduced as a half-time substitute, was deemed to have handled the ball in the box as he blocked a close-range David Silva shot, despite the former Manchester City midfielder’s effort deflecting off the Argentine’s thigh first.

Italian referee Marco Di Bello immediately awarded a penalty and after being checked by VAR, his decision stood. Brais Mendez stepped up to give Sociedad the lead, his powerful and precise spot-kick too good for David de Gea.

Team news

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag made six changes to his side for Thursday’s Europa League opener against Real Sociedad.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Casemiro and Harry Maguire were named in the starting line-up, along with Victor Lindelof, Fred and Anthony Elanga.

They replaced Raphael Varane, Lisandro Martinez, Scott McTominay, Bruno Fernandes, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford. Anthony Martial remained out due to injury.

Ronaldo made just his second start of the season, while summer signing Casemiro began his first match for United against a Real Sociedad team including former Manchester City midfielder David Silva.

Earlier, Cristiano Ronaldo, who was back in the United starting line-up for the first time since August 13, thought he had put his side ahead in the first half, but his powerful header from a Diogo Dalot cross was correctly ruled out for offside.

The 37-year-old saw two more efforts miss the target after the break before Sociedad went in front, while Casemiro – making his full United debut – saw his shot from distance well saved by Alex Remiro as United went in search of an equaliser.

However, it didn’t arrive and sees Erik ten Hag, who made six changes to his side following Sunday’s victory over Arsenal, lose his opening European fixture as United manager.

United are bottom of Group E after the opening matchday, with Sheriff Tiraspol beating Omonia Nicosia 3-0 in Cyprus in the evening’s other fixture.

However, the result prompted a muted response from players and staff on the sidelines at the final whistle in light of the sad news from Buckingham Palace.



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