Following their devastating loss to Liverpool, Manchester United made a comeback by defeating Real Betis 4-1 in the opening match of their Europa League last 16 tie on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Arsenal faced a 2-2 draw in their away game against Sporting Lisbon, which means they will have to work harder to secure a place in the quarter-finals.
Manchester United suffered their most significant loss in years, losing 7-0 at Anfield on Sunday. However, Erik ten Hag’s decision to stick with the same starting line-up paid off as they regained their winning form.
“You see how a team reacts after a setback,” said Ten Hag. “This is not the first time this season, I think you see five or six times we can reset and bounce back. This team has character so a big compliment to the team.”
Marcus Rashford scored his 26th goal of the season, putting Manchester United in an early lead.
However, Real Betis scored an equalizer against the flow of play, with Ayoze Perez firing into the far corner. In the second half, two of United’s players who had been heavily criticized in recent days made a significant impact.
Antony curled a fantastic shot into the top corner, and Bruno Fernandes, who was once again named captain by Ten Hag, headed in a corner from Luke Shaw.
“Bruno was brilliant today,” added Ten Hag. “He led the team from the first minute by his game in possession, making the rhythm of the game and scored a goal so I am happy.”
Six minutes before the end of the game, Wout Weghorst scored his second goal for Manchester United in 15 appearances by seizing an opportunity from close range.
Meanwhile, despite aiming for their first league title in 19 years, Premier League leaders Arsenal had to fight back to secure a draw in the Portuguese capital.
Mikel Arteta fielded a strong team, and William Saliba scored the visitors’ opening goal with a header.
Shortly after, Sporting equalized in a similar manner, with Goncalo Inacio heading in Marcus Edwards’ corner.
Edwards then played a part in Sporting’s second goal as Paulinho reacted quickly to finish inside the box. However, just after the hour mark, Arsenal equalized when Granit Xhaka’s cross deflected off Hidemasa Morita and went into his own net.
“Considering you concede two goals away from home and still escape with a draw you have to take some positives,” said Arsenal boss Arteta.
“But we gave them too much hope by giving the ball away in our own half too many times.”