Ole Gunnar Solskjær was delighted at Manchester United’s 2-0 Europa League quarter-final first leg win over Granada, though admitted it was not a “perfect night” as Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw and Scott McTominay were all booked and will miss next week’s return game at Old Trafford through suspension.
United will be firm favourites to reach the semi-final for a second consecutive season due to the two away goals scored by Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes in each half. Yet the yellow cards received by Maguire, Shaw and McTominay means Solskjær will be without his captain, first-choice left-back and central midfielder.
The manager said: “It was not a perfect night. We got three yellow cards and three suspensions [but]2-0 is very good result. We know how difficult it is to come to Spain. It’s created a good starting point for next week’s game – then we’ve got to play well to get a result. We want to win every game – football catches you so quickly if you rest. We can’t have any other approach. It’s still a young team, a learning team, and we have to improve all the time.”
Rashford’s opener on 31 minutes was his 20th goal of the season and derived from a sublime touch that controlled Victor Lindelöf’s high ball. Fernandes’s strike came via the penalty spot on 90 minutes, after the Portuguese took a blow to the eye.
Solskjær said: “They [Rashford and Fernandes] have been exceptional, so important for us. It was a very good run by Rashford, he takes the ball fantastically. Bruno is so confident on penalties even though the keeper almost saved it.”
Solskjær added: “I’ve just seen his eye when he came off [at the end]– he got hit and it’s red, so to score with one eye open shows skill.”
Shaw also took a knock and was replaced by the manager at half-time. “I had to protect Luke – I think and hope he should be okay for the weekend [trip to Tottenham],” Solskjær said.
The winger Dan James said: “It’s a massive win for us and getting a clean sheet was important. There’s still a second leg we’ve got to concentrate on but we have to recover.”