Double blow for Man Utd ahead of Europa League tie with Antony and Anthony ruled out
Forwards Antony and Anthony Martial have not travelled with the Man Utd squad for Thursday’s Europa League clash at Real Betis.
Erik ten Hag’s men headed to Spain boasting a three-goal advantage having won the first leg of this last-16 tie 4-1 at Old Trafford last Thursday.
Antony’s excellent effort restored United’s lead against Manuel Pellegrini’s Betis but the winger will not feature in the return leg in Seville.
The Brazil international was conspicuous by his absence from training at Carrington on Wednesday morning, with the club later confirming it was down to illness.
Antony was not part of the 21-man squad that flew to Spain as a result, nor was there a place for Martial despite the Frenchman training with the group on the eve of game.
The 27-year-old has only managed 14 appearances in all competitions during an injury-hit campaign, with the team clearly taking things cautiously on his return from a hip complaint.
Christian Eriksen and Donny van de Beek are joined on the sidelines by teenager Alejandro Garnacho, who sustained ankle ligament damage in Sunday’s 0-0 draw with Southampton.
Casemiro was sent off in that stalemate but his four-match ban only impacts domestic games so he has travelled, as have Marcel Sabitzer and Victor Lindelof after missing the Saints game.
Meanwhile, Real Betis boss Manuel Pellegrini knows his side must inflict a hiding akin to the Red Devils’ humiliation at Liverpool as Erik ten Hag’s side play on the road for the first time since their Anfield annihilation.
Los Verdiblancos are looking to become the second team in Europa League history to overcome a three-goal first-leg deficit to progress.
Man Utd ran out 4-1 victors in last Thursday’s last-16 tie at Old Trafford – an impressive display of quality and character four days on from their humiliating 7-0 defeat at bitter rivals Liverpool.
That loss equalled the club’s heaviest ever defeat and former Man City boss Pellegrini knows a similarly incredible collapse is needed if the La Liga side are to progress on Thursday night.
Asked what gives him hope of turning things around and whether there is a mental fragility in Man Utd, the Betis boss said: “Well, I believe really that in football you never know the score a game can finish.
“We play there away. Always different to playing here at home with our fans behind our team, knowing from the beginning that we are playing against a big team and they have all the major options to qualify for the next round.
“But we must try from the first minute, first to win the game, after that to try to score the goals that we need to qualify. And if not, to play a good game and win here at home.
“So, believing in my team, believing in our fans and we try, all together, to turn the score.”
More than 50,000 fans will be at the cavernous Estadio Benito Villamarin to cheer on Betis a week on from blowing a promising start at Old Trafford.
The score was level at half-time after Ayoze Perez cancelled out Marcus Rashford’s early opener, with the on-loan Leicester forward seeing an effort deflect onto the post before the break.
But a promising Betis performance unravelled after the break as Antony, Bruno Fernandes and Wout Weghorst efforts secured a comprehensive win.
“We were playing a very equal game until minute 53 (when Antony scored),” Pellegrini said.
“That goal of Manchester United, a brilliant goal from a good player, and after that minutes later a corner finished the game.
“It was not a physical problem, more a mental problem that sees our work for 53 minutes going away in just four or five minutes.
“I think every game is different. Tomorrow we’re not going to have in our mind the score we had there. We try to have (focus on) our score here at home.”
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