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Manchester United 2-0 Granada: 5 Talking Points as Edinson Cavani fires Red Devils to semi-finals | UEFA Europa League 2020/21

Manchester United v Granada CF - UEFA Europa League Quarter Final: Leg Two
Manchester United v Granada CF - UEFA Europa League Quarter Final: Leg Two
Sai Teja
FEATURED WRITER

It was smooth sailing for Manchester United as they cruised past Granada with a 2-0 victory to book their place in the last four of the UEFA Europa League.

The Red Devils didn't have to hit top gear to see off the Spanish side as they already had a comfortable two-goal lead over them on aggregate, both of which were away goals.

Manchester United's night was made even easier after Edinson Cavani's early opener. Paul Pogba's looping header found the 34-year-old in the box, and he sublimely dispatched the ball to break the deadlock. They stamped their authority right at the start of the game, making Granada's seemingly impossible task an even more difficult one.

While they did have a decent number of opportunities across the 90 minutes, it was a far tamer display than what they put up at the Nuevo Estadio de Los Carmenes, and the hosts appeared to be in control of the fixture at all times.

Manchester United could have had a few more goals on the night if not for some very questionable finishing, with the likes of Bruno Fernandes, Fred, and Mason Greenwood registering shots that were closer to the corner flag than they were to the goalpost.

However, it was of little consequence to begin with, and the tie was wrapped up with a bow on top after Jesus Vallejo's unfortunate own goal. Alex Telles whipped in a beautiful cross into the box towards Juan Mata, but Vallejo inadvertently ended up putting the ball into his own net with a precise header.

Overall, it was a productive night of football and the Red Devils managed to keep their fifth clean sheet in six Europa League games, with the last-gasp equaliser against AC Milan being the only goal they've conceded so far. They join Villarreal, AS Roma, and Arsenal in the last four of the competition and are set to face off with the Italians for a place in the final.

Here are five talking points from the game at Old Trafford as Manchester United registered a comfortable victory against Diego Martinez's Granada.


#5 Second-string players get the job done for Manchester United

Manchester United v Granada CF - UEFA Europa League Quarter Final: Leg Two
Manchester United v Granada CF - UEFA Europa League Quarter Final: Leg Two

Heading into the fixture, Manchester United were without the services of three key players. Luke Shaw, Scott McTominay, and captain Harry Maguire were all suspended due to their yellow cards in the reverse fixture, and it is important to note that Anthony Martial is sidelined due to injury as well, which paved the way for a few changes.

The deputies that were called upon — Nemanja Matic, Alex Telles, and Axel Tuanzebe — were excellent on the night. The Serb was composed in the middle of the park and kept things simple for Manchester United, winning the ball back with relative ease and spraying the ball around. He didn't have to break a sweat to thwart Granada's attacks and completed more passes on the pitch than any other player.

Tuanzebe appeared in the first team for the first time since coming on in the second half against Real Sociedad back in February. He stepped up in Harry Maguire's absence and was a rock in from to goal. It would undoubtedly be a confidence-boosting display for the Englishman. Telles impressed as well, venturing forward regularly and it was his cross that led to their second goal of the night.

Even Donny van de Beek — who was handed 45 precious minutes to make his case — was superb after coming on at halftime (more on him later). Overall, it was a mature display from the side despite a few noteworthy first-team players missing from action for Manchester United.


#4 Donny van de Beek's encouraging display

Manchester United v Granada CF - UEFA Europa League Quarter Final: Leg Two
Manchester United v Granada CF - UEFA Europa League Quarter Final: Leg Two

A lot has been made of Donny van de Beek's time at Old Trafford so far. The game against Granada could have been a great opportunity to hand him a rare start, but that was not the case. He was only brought on for the second half of the game. To his credit, however, Van de Beek impressed during his spell on the pitch.

Replacing a more adventurous Paul Pogba for the second 45, Van de Beek displayed why there's a belief that he requires time to settle into the side. He's a very safe player on the ball, and while that may be an excellent trait to possess, it isn't particularly what Manchester United have come to expect from their primary number ten since Bruno Fernandes arrived.

The Portuguese might be erratic at times, but his ambitious attempts to break down defences have single-handedly won them games in the past. On the night at Old Trafford, Van de Beek — operating in a slightly deeper role than Fernandes — showed that they could coexist and do so to a great degree. And perhaps, this is what his long-term position at the club could be.

Van de Beek impressed for Manchester United with his second-half display. He was confident on the ball, comfortable in possession, and created one excellent chance for Mason Greenwood in the box, only for the Englishman to meet it with a poor header. The signs are there for Van de Beek's eventual integration into the first XI, but for now, he continues to remain patient and grab such opportunities with both hands.


Also read: Twitter reacts as Manchester United beat Granada 2-0 to book Europa League semi-final spot

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Edited by Sai Teja
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