Erik ten Hag lauds Manchester United's 'character' after rousing win over Betis

United win Europa League last-16 first leg 4-1 on Thursday

Marcus Rashford, Bruno Fernandes, Wout Weghorst and Antony all scored for Manchester United in their Europa League round of 16 clash with Real Betis at Old Trafford on Thursday, March 9, 2023. Getty
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Marcus Rashford, Antony, Bruno Fernandes and Wout Weghorst were all on target to lift Manchester United to an emphatic 4-1 win over Real Betis in the first leg of their Europa League last-16 tie on Thursday, four days after their humiliating loss to Liverpool.

Erik ten Hag's team needed a quick response after their record 7-0 defeat on Sunday and did so in style.

"Definitely (the response I wanted)," Ten Hag said. "We said that we had to reset and we have to bounce back and I think we played quite good first half.

"I think we should have been up 3-0 also, but then we make one mistake. Then you go 1-1 into half-time but we bounce back in the second half and I think it was a really good performance in the second half.

"It's always (important to) see how a team reacts after a setback," Ten Hag said. "We can reset, we can bounce back, this team has character."

"Good performance also to give something to the fans, and they gave us something back as well because they were right behind us," Ten Hag told BT Sport. "Very grateful after Sunday."

The Dutchman had given his team the chance to make amends for Anfield by naming an unchanged line-up. It had the desired effect.

The Old Trafford crowd sang Fernandes’ name loud as he walked out onto the field to confirm he still had their support.

Rashford scored his 25th goal of the season in all competitions, controlling a cross from Fernandes and smashing it into the top corner to the delight of Old Trafford fans who braved the chilly temperatures and snow.

Ayoze Perez, on loan from Leicester City, netted his first goal for Betis in the 32nd minute.

The home team dominated the second half as Brazilian winger Antony put United ahead in the 52nd minute, launching a left-foot shot from just outside the box into the top corner.

Six minutes later, Fernandes headed in a corner off the fingertips of Betis keeper Claudio Bravo. Then, Weghorst finally got his goal in the 82nd minute after missing numerous chances, steering the ball into the net after a cutback from substitute Facundo Pellistri.

"It's a step back in the right direction," Rashford said. "Obviously, we have to build on this now to gain momentum again. We can't put too much emphasis on Sunday, because it's gone, we can't change it."

Updated: March 10, 2023, 4:33 AM