Bruno Fernandes scored twice as Manchester United took a big step toward the last 16 of the Europa League with a 4-0 “away” win over Spanish team Real Sociedad in Italy on Thursday. The first leg was played in Turin, one of a number of games relocated away from their original venues due to coronavirus-related travel restrictions from certain countries affecting teams from Britain.
Portugal’s Benfica had to host Arsenal in Rome, where Bukayo Saka’s away goal put the Premier League side in a good position with a 1-1 draw. Tottenham defeated Austrian team Wolfsberg 4-1 in Budapest, Hungary.
Germany’s Hoffenheim was also affected by pandemic-related travel restrictions.
Hoffenheim’s game with Norwegian side Molde was played at Villarreal’s stadium in Spain, while Villarreal beat Salzburg 2-0 in Austria. Hoffenheim forward Munas Dabbur scored two goals, set up another, and then missed a penalty before Molde came back from two goals down to draw 3-3.
Fernandes had Sociedad’s defence to thank for his first goal in the 27th, when two defenders collided with their own goalkeeper, leaving him free to score into an empty net. He then finished off a quick counterattack to make it 2-0 in the 57th. Fernandes let Marcus Rashford’s pass go behind him to Daniel James, then received the ball back and fired inside the right post.
Rashford added the third in the 64th and James completed the scoring in the last minute.
United is playing in the Europa League for the third time in five seasons, a drop for a club once regarded as a continental heavyweight.
Gareth Bale reminded his detractors of his qualities as he scored one goal and set up another for Tottenham. The Wales forward, back at Tottenham on loan from Real Madrid to the end of the season, cut the ball back for Son Heung-min to open the scoring in the 13th, before he illustrated why Madrid paid Tottenham a record transfer fee for his services in 2013.
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Bale showed Matt Doherty exactly where he wanted the ball, outpaced Jonathan Scherzer to reach it, then stopped to leave the Wolfsberg defender sprawling, before curling a powerful shot past goalkeeper Alexander Kofler with his left boot.
Bale has been struggling in his second spell at Tottenham, making just seven Premier League appearances. He recently irked José Mourinho for posting “Good session today” on Instagram with the Tottenham coach saying there was “a contradiction between the post and the reality.”
Lucas Moura eluded a number of defenders to make it 3-0 in the 34th.
A penalty from Michael Liendl gave the Austrians some hope in the second half, but Vinicius, who had come on during the break for Son, scored from close range in the 88th.
Wolfsberg is playing for the first time in the knockout stages of a European competition.
Ajax left it late to beat Lille 2-1 in France, where United States forward Timothy Weah opened the scoring for Lille in the 72nd.
It was Weah’s second goal in the competition. The 20-year-old forward is the son of former Milan great George Weah, the current president of Liberia.
Renato Sanches gave away a penalty for a foul on Nicolás Tagliafico, and Dušan Tadić equalised from the spot in the 87th, two minutes before the 19-year-old Brian Brobbey scored the winner.
A last-minute penalty from Borna Barišić, his second of the game, gave Rangers a 4-3 win at Belgian team Antwerp.
Milan Pavkov scored in injury time for Red Star Belgrade to draw 2-2 against visiting AC Milan.
Bayer Leverkusen fought back from three goals down at the break against Young Boys, before Jordan Siebatcheu scored in the 89th to give the Swiss team a 4-3 win. “We showed we're a team in the second half,” Leverkusen captain Jonathan Tah said. “It's disappointing and such a shame to lose in the end.”
The German team is used to disappointment, mockingly called “Bayer Neverkusen” by rival supporters for often finishing runner-up.
Two goals in two minutes from Brazilian forward Kenedy and Venezuelan midfielder Yangel Herrera gave Spanish side Granada a surprising 2-0 win over Napoli. Shakhtar Donetsk won 2-0 at Maccabi Tel Aviv, Dynamo Kyiv drew 1-1 with Club Brugge, Leicester drew 0-0 at Slavia Prague, Roma won 2-0 at Sporting Braga, Dinamo Zagreb beat Russian team Krasnodar 3-2 away, and Olympiakos earned a 4-2 win at home over PSV Eindhoven.