The Red Devils boss will be forced into a reshuffle for next week’s second leg at Old Trafford
Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was pleased with his side’s Europa League victory against Granada but said it was “not a perfect night” after three bookings ruled out a trio of players through suspension for next week’s quarter-final second leg.
The Red Devils look well set for a place in the last four after goals in each half from Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes secured a 2-0 victory against the Spanish side.
However, they will be without Harry Maguire, Scott McTominay and Luke Shaw for next week’s return game after they all picked up bookings.
Solskjaer happy with ‘very good result’
Speaking after the game to BT Sport, Solskjaer said: “It was not a perfect night. We got three yellow cards and three suspensions. 2-0 is very good result. We know how difficult it is to come to Spain. We’ve got to play well to get a result.”
Solskjaer praised the impact of the two goalscorers, with Rashford’s fine first-half strike from Victor Lindelof’s raking cross-field pass taking his tally to 20 in all competitions.
It was also his eighth goal in European competition this season, the first English player to achieve that feat for the Red Devils since Sir Bobby Charlton in 1964-65.
Fernandes meanwhile scored a late penalty to move to 24 goals for the season. The Portuguese has scored 19 of the 20 spot-kicks he has taken for the club in all competitions this campaign.
“They [Rashford and Fernandes] have been exceptional, so important for us,” added Solskjaer.
“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.”
“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 can’t have any other approach.”
Red Devils winger Dan James, who played the full 90 minutes Nuevo Estadio de Los Carmenes, told BT Sport: “It’s a massive win for us. We knew it’d be tough coming here. Getting a clean sheet was important. There’s still a second leg we’ve got to concentrate on but we have to recover and get ready for Sunday [in the Premier League away at Tottenham].
“We knew it would be a tough game physically and we had to match that. We fought to the end and got that penalty.
“I’m really happy. We have to go into next week with the same attitude. Sunday is a massive game for us. We’ve got to get back, recover, get ready for that.”
The bigger picture
The Europa League is Manchester United’s only realistic chance of silverware this season with the club 14 points behind leaders Manchester City in the Premier League and beaten by Leicester in the FA Cup quarter-final last month.
They have not won a trophy since the Europa League under Jose Mourinho nearly four years ago and have not reached a final since Solskjaer succeeded the Portuguese in December 2018, losing at the semi-final stage in three cup competitions last season.
They look all but certain of reaching another semi-final after a professional performance in Spain on Thursday evening, despite the absence of Maguire, Shaw and McTominay for next week’s second leg.
Granada are competing in Europe for the first time in the club’s history and began this competition in the first qualifying round, but it would take a remarkable result at Old Trafford next week for their fairy-tale run to continue.