Man Utd need three players to step up after suspensions in Granada Europa League win

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Manchester United have one foot in the Europa League semi finals, after a relatively routine 2-0 victory over Granada on Thursday. United went into the last-eight tie as heavy favourites against a side that were competing at this stage in Europe for the very first time.

But it wasn’t all plain sailing for United, who struggled for large portions against the physical, but limited, Spaniards.

Ole Gunnar Solskaer’s side had created almost nothing in the opening exchanges, until Marcus Rashford’s sublime opener.

Almost out of nowhere, Victor Lindelof found the forward with a long and precise ball forward.

Rashford split the two Granada defenders, taking a brilliant first touch, before sliding it into the bottom corner.

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And for much of the evening, it looked like that would be that, until with minutes to go, Bruno Fernandes earned a penalty after he was struck in the face.

The Portuguese dusted himself down to convert the spot-kick and all-but book the Red Devils’ place in the semi finals.

Asked if it was a perfect night, Solskjaer admitted the suspensions for Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw and Scott McTominay were the only drawbacks.

All three went into the tie knowing a caution would see them miss the second leg at Old Trafford, but all failed to navigate the 90 minutes without finding themselves in the referee’s notebook.

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It means that Solskjer will have to make at least a trio of changes, with a number of squad players set for the opportunity to make a lasting impact.

At left-back, Alex Telles looks certain to get the nod due to the absence of Luke Shaw.

The Brazilian actually came on at the break in Spain, and impressed with his determination and crossing ability.

Telles has had to wait for his chances since signing from Porto last summer, but now has a chance to have his say in what is a huge game for the club.

Elsewhere, in place of captain Maguire, Axel Tuanzebe looks set for a rare opportunity to push his case for a more consistent run in the first team.

The academy graduate has played just 554 minutes in all competitions, but with Eric Bailly still sidelined with Covid, he could be given a run-out against Roberto Soldado et al.

Meanwhile, in midfield, Donny van de Beek could finally be given extended minutes in place of the suspended McTominay.

While Solskjaer has shown a preference for two deeper midfield players, the Dutchman has shown from his time with Ajax that he is capable of performing in that role.

Between now and the end of the season, Van de Beek will be desperate for extra opportunities, with his place at Euro 2020 in some doubt.

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