Bruno Fernandes scored twice as Manchester United romped to a 4-0 victory over Real Sociedad in their Europa League last-32 first leg on Thursday, while Gareth Bale impressed for Tottenham in a 4-1 thrashing of Austrian side Wolfsberg.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United are all but into the last 16, with four ‘away’ goals to take into the return game in a week’s time, after the first leg was played in Turin due to coronavirus travel restrictions.
United started slowly in the first 10 minutes but began to grow into the game, with Marcus Rashford wasting two excellent chances.
The Premier League outfit did grab the lead in the 27th minute when Fernandes pounced on a mix-up between Sociedad goalkeeper Alex Remiro and defender Robin Le Normand, as they attempted to clear Rashford’s clipped pass, to slot in.
Solskjaer’s men doubled their advantage 12 minutes into the second period as Fernandes stroked home his 21st goal of the season in all competitions after Daniel James had laid off Rashford’s ball.
The effort was initially ruled out for offside before the linesman’s decision was overruled by VAR.
United continued to play at a pace Sociedad could not deal with and Rashford finally got his goal in the 65th minute following a blistering counter-attack started by goalkeeper Dean Henderson.
The tie was surely put to bed in the final minute of normal time as James raced clear and fired into the bottom corner.
Bale’s agent Jonathan Barnett had said on Wednesday the Wales winger was “towards the end of his career”, after Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho had questioned the player’s Instagram post suggesting he was in good health despite being unavailable for Spurs’ FA Cup defeat at Everton last week.
But Bale notched his first Tottenham assist since April 2013 to tee up Son-Heung-min for the opening goal in Budapest against Wolfsberg, before drilling in the second before the half-hour mark.
A wonderful individual strike from Lucas Moura extended Spurs’ first-half lead, and although Michael Liendl pulled one back for the Austrians with a second-half penalty, the English club have one foot in the next round after Carlos Vinicius’ 88th-minute goal.
Mourinho has never lost a knockout tie in the competition, which he won with Porto in 2003 and Man United in 2017.
AC Milan, who have not reached the quarter-finals of any European competition since the 2011-12 Champions League, had to settle for a 2-2 draw at Red Star Belgrade.
Milan, who face Inter in a top-of-the-table Serie A derby on Sunday, were pegged back as Milan Pavkov netted a dramatic 93rd-minute leveller for Red Star, who played the closing stages with 10 men.
Leicester, sitting third in the Premier League, were held to a goalless draw at Slavia Prague, but there was plenty of excitement elsewhere.
Patrik Schick scored twice as Bayer Leverkusen fought back from three goals down only to lose 4-3 to Young Boys in Bern, while Olympiakos beat PSV Eindhoven 4-2 in Piraeus.
Dinamo Zagreb edged out Krasnodar 3-2 in Russia and Edin Dzeko’s early goal helped Roma to a 2-0 win at 10-man Braga.