Real Sociedad 0-1 Manchester United
Imanol Alguacil had told his Real Sociedad side that if they did anything other than go out to win, then they would lose and by multiple goals against Manchester United. They were well aware that a two-goal defeat would see United jump above them and take top spot.
Missing David Silva and Takefusa Kubo through injury, La Real followed their manager’s wishes and attacked the Red Devils. Early on Erik ten Hag’s side took the lead though, Cristiano Ronaldo resisting the habitual boos and slipping 18-year-old Alejandro Garnacho in behind to whip the ball into the net.
La Real responded well though and it was they who had more chances for the rest of the first half, Mikel Merino producing a heroic save from David de Gea.
It was a similar pattern of play in the second period as both teams had their spells. There was threat present and Robert Navarro came closest for the home side, while Ronaldo carried much of the threat in the final third – eventually partnered by Harry Maguire in a curious turn of events.
It was only the final ten minutes where the Txuri-Urdin were forced to defend for their lives though, Alex Remiro saving well and Robin Le Normand blocking brilliantly during a scramble in the box.
They managed to hold out though and with their first defeat in Europe this season, secured top spot in the group. Level on points and head-to-head, La Real had a better goal difference by one and avoid the Champions League dropouts in the Europa League playoff round.
The celebrations following the final whistle were loud at the Reale Arena – this result doesn’t just mean progress, but feels like La Real are competing on a different level in Europe.