Alongside Bruno: MUFC’s “unstoppable” 53-touch “genius” just redeemed himself v Betis

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Crisis? Welche crisis?

Manchester United overcame Real Betis on Thursday night in their Europa League last-16 first-leg match, putting Sunday’s humiliating loss at Anfield behind them. Erik ten Hag’s team put on an incredible second-half performance to all but guarantee their place in the round of eight.

The La Liga team responded after the hosts got off to a quick start at Old Trafford when on-loan player from Leicester City Ayoze Perez produced a beautiful, driven finish from the angle. This was Marcus Rashford’s 26th goal of the season in all competitions.

After a tense first half that saw tension build among the United players and the home crowd, the Red Devils came out firing in the second half. The often-criticized Antony expertly curled in from long range for what Samuel Luckhurst called “his best goal for United,” and under-fire captain Bruno Fernandes nodded home from Luke Shaw’s dead-on corner with ease.

Wout Weghorst, a towering Dutchman, showed a mix of relief and joy after scoring just his second goal for the team, giving the home team a late boost. Weghorst’s goal was the reward his performance deserved.

Notwithstanding all the doubts going into last night’s game, Ten Hag’s team put up a commendable performance given the circumstances, and the former Ajax manager’s choice to start the same starting lineup that was ruthlessly dismantled on Merseyside was more than justified.

The likes of Fernandes, in particular, had something to prove after being referred to as “embarrassing” by club legend Gary Neville at the weekend. Nevertheless, the Portugal international was simply outstanding after being restored to his playmaking berth, recording a goal and an assist as well as providing five crucial passes in total.

It will help to serve as a reminder of the 28-year-exceptional old’s performance, which earned him a 9.1 match rating on Sofascore. The former Sporting CP’s man truly took the initiative with a “captain’s performance,” in the words of writer Si Lloyd.

According to one source, the midfield maestro was accompanied by the aforementioned Antony, who also reportedly “redeemed” himself on the night after facing justifiable criticism for his performance the last time around.

How did Antony fare in the matchup with Betis?

The Brazilian’s difficult transition to life in England finally came to a head against Jurgen Klopp’s team as he simply proved to be rather ineffective at both ends of the field. According to pundit Micah Richards, the Red Devils were effectively playing with “ten men” as a result of the Brazilian’s inability to track back.

The £86 million man could have wilted after starting last night after also being called a player whose “final product is dreadful” by former United defender Paul Parker, but he went on to exhibit the “personality and character” that his manager absolutely adores.

The former Sao Paolo player was a real threat for the hosts in that relentless second half performance, and he marked that impact with a “unstoppable” finish, according to CBS reporter Ben Jacobs. However, he did still occasionally prove to be frustrating, most notably failing to set up what would have been a certain goal after selfishly dinking his effort over the crossbar.

The quick-footed “genius,” as Juan Lopesino, a journalist, called him, also came close to scoring a second goal, but Claudio Bravo, who also completed all of his crosses and made two crucial passes out of 53 touches, stopped him.

In addition, Antony won three of his four ground battles during that encouraging performance, demonstrating his improved defensive attitude. His match rating of 7.5 on Sofascore was only surpassed by Fernandes.

While Ten Hag’s team will face tougher tests in the coming weeks and months, yesterday’s performance will have given some players newfound confidence. These players, in particular Antony and Fernandes, will now be motivated to show that the dreadful 7-0 thrashing was just an aberration.

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