5 talking points as Rashford and Fernandes put Man Utd in control vs Granada

Marcus Rashford's fine first-half strike and Bruno Feranndes' late penalty saw Manchester United take control of their Europa League quarter-final with Granada.

Rashford excellent technique and composure were on full display as he collected Victor Lindelof's long pass and finished past Rui Silva in the 31st minute.

And Fernandes doubled United's advantage from the penalty spot in the 90th minute after he was fouled by Yan Eteki off the ball.

The Red Devils were clearly a cut above their Spanish opposition – who are competing in European competition for the first time this season – and also showed a clinical edge with two goals from three shots on target.

There were also plenty of other positives for United to take from the first leg in Granada, with Paul Pogba shining in central midfield and the visitors' defence impressing.

But Solskjaer will be without key men in defence and midfield in next week's second leg, as Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw and Scott McTominay picked up yellow-card suspensions.

Here are five talking points from the Nuevo Estadio de Los Carmenes.

1. Rashford breaks deadlock

Marcus Rashford was by far and away Manchester United's most threatening player in the early stages and was rewarded for his intent with the opening goal.

The Englishman took down Victor Lindelof's sumptuous clipped pass from the deep with a perfect first touch before slotting cooly past Rui Silva to put United ahead.

It was a goal reminiscent of Vinicius Junior's opener for Real Madrid earlier this week, with Lindelof's pass carving Granada open just as Toni Kroos' did against Liverpool.

It also takes Rashford's tally for the campaign to 20, and he is on course to break his personal best of 22 goals in a season which he set last term.

2. Pogba runs show from the deep

Before the match, Old Trafford legend Paul Scholes reiterated his belief that Paul Pogba's best position is on the left flank, where he is able to influence attacks and drift in and out of the opposition penalty area.

But Ole Gunnar Solskjaer named the Frenchman alongside Scott McTominay in central midfield for the trip to Granada, and the pair struck a fine partnership.

With McTominay tasked with much of the dirty work of breaking up Granada attacks, Pogba was had the license to roam into attacking areas vacated by Bruno Fernandes – who was practically playing up front with Mason Greenwood at times.

This is not to say Pogba snubbed his defensive duties; he was strong in the tackle and his positioning to close passing avenues was excellent.

It was refreshing to see Solskjaer name a balanced double-pivot against the mid-table La Liga side and the Red Devils were all the better for having Pogba alongside McTominay, as opposed to one of the more defensive-minded Fred or Nemanja Matic.

3. Shutout for De Gea on return

After a month out of the starting XI following the birth of his daughter, this was the ideal assignment for David de Gea.

Granada only mustered a handful of shots and the closest the hosts came to a goal was Yangel Herrera's cross which hit the outside of the post towards the end of the first half.

On-loan Chelsea forward Kenedy was the only player in red and blue to force saves out of De Gea with three shots from range which were clasped by the United stopper.

De Gea will be determined to reassert his claim to No.1 status during the run-in and he knows the best way to do this is with clean sheets.

Dean Henderson was handed the gloves during the Spaniard's absence but there is a general sense the Three Lions star didn't do quite enough to secure the gloves on a long-term basis.

These suspicions were proved correct by De Gea's recall against Granada and, in truth, the battle for first-choice goalkeeper status at Old Trafford remains as fierce as ever.

4. United's run-in advantage emerges

As the business end of the season intensifies, Manchester United are reaping the rewards of their strong position in the Premier League.

The Red Devils appear certain to finish in the top four with a nine-point lead over fifth-place Chelsea, meaning Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is able to go full strength in the Europa League.

This is a luxury many of United's domestic rivals who are also competing in European competition do not have.

The likes of Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal must tread carefully in the run-in, or risk over-burdening first-team stars as they balance a push for a top-four spot with commitments on the continent.

In contrast, Solskjaer could name his heavy hitters in the starting XI for the trip to Granada knowing his side have a commanding advantage in the race for the Champions League spots.

Crucially, the Norwegian was able risk goalscorer Marcus Rashford despite the Englishman picking up a knock at the weekend – and the gulf in class between the two sides only grew more apparent as the game wore on.

5. Solskjaer suffers numerous suspensions

Although Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is able to dedicate his personnel to the Europa League, he will be without three key players for the second leg.

Scott McTominay and Luke Shaw were booked in quick succession for poor challenges late in the first half, while Harry Maguire's name was taken after he hauled down Roberto Soldado in the closing stages.

Shaw was taken off at the interval and it remains to be seen whether Solskjaer was concerned over a second booking or if the left-back suffered an injury.

Either way, the Englishman, along with McTominay and Maguire, will play no part in the second leg back on home turf next week.

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