Football: United, Arsenal scrape Europa wins as Sociedad claim top-two spot

Scott McTominay (left) celebrates after scoring the winning goal for United. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

GDANSK, Poland – Manchester United’s Scott McTominay managed a last-gasp strike to spare his team’s blushes as they claimed a 1-0 victory at home to Omonia Nicosia in the Europa League on Thursday.

Arsenal also earned a 1-0 win at Bodo/Glimt with a Bukayo Saka goal to make it three Europa League victories in a row as they took another step towards securing top spot in Group A.

United had 34 shots and dominated possession in the Group E encounter but only just managed to snatch the points.

In the other game in their group, Real Sociedad became the second LaLiga side to secure a top-two spot as goals from Alexander Sorloth, Diego Rico and substitute Roberto Navarro secured a 3-0 home win against Sheriff.

Real Betis, Fenerbahce, Rennes and Freiburg all secured top-two finishes, which guarantee at least a place in the knockout round playoffs, earlier on Thursday.

United put Omonia under pressure from the start but were frustrated and went into the break with the score at 0-0.

They continued to waste chances in the second half with boos ringing around Old Trafford until a crescendo of relief when substitute McTominay scored three minutes into stoppage time.

“I would say the performance till the box was good, but then the finishing of course was not that good. Let’s hope that we have saved the goals for the coming week,” Ten Hag told reporters.

He said his team have enough creativity to win matches but that some of his players just had an off-night in front of goal.

“What the good thing is, and I have to credit the team for that, they keep going and they don’t give up,” he added.

“They keep believing (that they could) score and in the end, they got rewarded. And that is the way you have to do it.”

Saka strikes

Arsenal got their winner in the 24th minute when Saka’s deflected shot inside the box caught Glimt goalkeeper Nikita Khaikin off guard and bounced inside the lower left post.

But manager Mikel Arteta said is worried about losing more of his squad to injury with the game played on an artificial pitch.

He said the players would be closely monitored over the next couple of days to see if there was any impact from playing on the surface.

“We had 16 players available, so I have to play 11 and I don’t want those 11 to play 90 minutes here because I know probably what is going to happen in the next day or two,” Arteta told reporters.

“If they get injured here for sure, we will be talking that we should not risk a player or risk a player at the end. They have to play.”

PSV Eindhoven kept up the pressure on the Gunners with a 5-0 thrashing of visitors FC Zurich which took them to seven points behind Arsenal on nine. The Swiss side are bottom with no points and out of contention for the next phase of the competition.

In Group C, Betis drew 1-1 with AS Roma after Sergio Canales’ goal was cancelled out by Andrea Belotti but it was enough for the LaLiga side to secure a top-two position.

Ludogorets put pressure on Jose Mourinho’s Roma as the Bulgarian side won 2-0 at home to HJK Helsinki to reach seven points above the Italians with four and two games remaining.

Saka struck midway through the first half in Norway to give the Gunners a third win in as many outings in Group A. PHOTO: REUTERS

The Finnish champions can now only get a third place finish that secures a spot in the Europa Conference League.

Fenerbahce and Rennes will finish in the top two in Group B after the Turkish side won 2-1 at AEK Larnaca, while Christopher Wooh saw Rennes to a 1-0 win in Krakow against Dynamo Kyiv.

In Group D, a hat-trick from SC Braga’s Vitor Oliveira was not enough to secure a win at table-topping Union SG as the teams drew 3-3.

Union Berlin stayed in touch with the leaders by winning 1-0 at home to Malmo after defender Robin Knoche scored in the 89th minute. The result means the Swedish side will finish bottom.

Lazio and Sturm Graz drew 2-2 in Rome, keeping Group F wide open, while Ferencvaros have the upper hand in Group H after a 2-1 home win over Red Star Belgrade, with Trabzonspor three points behind in second after beating visitors Monaco 4-0. REUTERS

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.