By Lori Ewing
MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) – Marcus Rashford, Antony, Bruno Fernandes and Wout Weghorst scored 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 humbling loss to Liverpool.
Erik ten Hag’s team, who capitulated 7-0 to their arch-rivals on Sunday, were desperate to bounce back quickly and Casemiro’s fifth-minute effort was ruled out for offside.
Rashford soon scored his 25th goal of the season in all competitions, however, 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 blowing snow.
Ayoze Perez, on loan from Leicester City, netted his first goal for Betis in the 32nd minute. There were questions about a handball in the buildup but VAR officials ruled otherwise.
The home team dominated the second half, and Brazilian winger Antony put United ahead in the 52nd minute, launching a blistering left-foot shot from just outside the box into the top corner.
Six minutes later, Fernandes shrugged off the scathing criticism he received as captain after Sunday’s poor performance with a goal to head in a corner off the fingertips of Betis keeper Claudio Bravo.
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.
In other first-leg games, Juventus beat SC Freiburg 1-0 and Shakhtar Donetsk drew 1-1 with Feyenoord.
In earlier matches, Premier League leaders Arsenal drew 2-2 at Sporting Lisbon, AS Roma beat Spain’s Real Sociedad 2-0. In Germany, Belgian side Royale Union held Union Berlin to a 3-3 draw and Bayer Leverkusen beat Hungary’s Ferencvaros 2-0.
(Reporting by Lori Ewing, editing by Ed Osmond)