United started the game with four changes from the 3-1 victory against Fulham at the weekend, most probably due to David Moyes having one eye on the crunch game against Arsenal this coming Sunday. Hernandez starts despite his controversial retweet suggesting he may leave. Fellaini starts in midfield with Giggs in what is his 950th appearance for United.
The opening exchanges of the game were dominated by United without much in the way of clear cut chances. A Giggs free-kick resulted in a chance for Smalling to pressure the keeper in the air and forcing him into a mistake, Hernandez nearly latched onto the loose ball but the keeper recovered. It was a decent start by United looking comfortable on the ball and probing for an opportunity. There was some excellent linkup play between Rooney and Kagawa with the Japanese firing a shot straight down the keepers throat.
The home team started the game timidly, United looking much stronger and the crowd starting to quieten down. United displayed nice intricate passing in the final 3rd in an attempt to unlock Sociedad who were keeping very tight at the back. The first shot on target came from a great effort by Kagawa from the edge of the area, but keeper had it covered and saved well. Sociedad won their first corner after 20 mins after, their first flowing move of the game.
The first half was a bit of a scrappy affair in all honesty, not much quality showing through in a game that United really need to win to put themselves in control of the group. Fellaini was given yellow card for a late challenge, he was guilty a number of times of leaving a foot in, mainly in frustration of losing the ball in the first place. Both teams seemed to come to life in the last 5 minutes of the half. Firstly Kagawa’s near post cross, which was almost turned in by Hernandez.
The second half started with Socidead on the front foot. Evra did some excellent covering defensively which stopped ex-Arsenal man Carlos Vela opening the scoring for the Basque side. Then came the chance of the match, which Javier Hernandez skied from six yards out – Some excellent work from Shinji Kagawa created the opportunity for the Mexican to tap into an empty night, but he couldn’t do so.
The game started to get stretched from the 60th minute, Robin van Persie was stripped and ready to come on to hopefully get us a goal and win the game. Fellaini was probably a good candidate for a substitution as he had been in the thick of the action all night and the Spaniards were determined to get him sent off. Although it was Rooney and Chicharito who were brought off in place of Robin van Persie and Ashley Young.
Almost instantly after coming on, Ashley Young won United one of the cheapest penalties you’ll ever see with a shocking dive. Robin van Persie stepped up to take it and slammed the penalty into the post, the ball is cleared on the rebound and justice is done for a penalty that never was.
Fellaini was looking much more effective in a more advanced midfield role. Sociedad still looked dangerous on the break and were continuing to win corners and half chances. Kagawa was really pulling the strings and with 10 minutes to go the game was end to end with both teams wanting a win.
Fellaini was finally sent off in the 90th minute after a clumsy challenge. It had been on the cards for a majority of the game and i’m disappointed Moyes didn’t spot that and take him off earlier. Whats even more frustrating is that he then sacrifices Kagawa, who has played a blinder since moving into the hole for Phil Jones. Going from pushing for a winner to holding on for a point in 5 minutes!
The game finished 0-0, it was a match we deserved to win but the game between Leverkusen and Shakhtar finished with the same result so we are still in control of the group with a top of the table clash coming up against Leverkusen in a few weeks. The winner of that game will surely decide the winner of the group. Going to be a tough match away in Germany.
Man of the Match: Shinji Kagawa.