Carlo Ancelotti hailed his Real Madrid midfield as the best in the world after Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Casemiro turned on the style in a 4-1 win at Granada.

Kroos grabbed his first two assists of an injury-blighted season, while Modric and Casemiro laid on a goal apiece in an impressive rout on Sunday, as Madrid beat Granada for a 13th successive time in LaLiga.

The last time Granada scored a home win over Madrid was in February 2013, when they won 1-0 thanks to a Cristiano Ronaldo own goal, his only such blunder in 292 appearances in the Spanish top flight.

There was no danger of a repeat as Madrid grabbed this game by the scruff of the neck and were 3-1 up and chasing more goals by the time their hosts had Monchu sent off for a wild challenge on Vinicius Junior.

Marco Asensio, Nacho, Vinicius and Ferland Mendy got the goals, but Madrid's midfield three were outstanding, as Ancelotti admiringly acknowledged after the game.

With Real Sociedad only able to draw against Valencia in the evening game, it meant Madrid finished the weekend on top of the table by one point.

"What can you say," Madrid head coach Ancelotti told reporters. "They're playing at a very high level and are still the best midfielders in the world for me. They're doing things that I don't even ask from them, they do it naturally, and it's a big advantage for this club.

"They are the past, present and the future. If we're talking about the near future, absolutely. If we're looking in 10 years' time, then perhaps not. But we're in good shape for the future because [Eduardo] Camavinga, [Federico] Valverde and [Antonio] Blanco are ready too.

"They're used to playing together and they have qualities which are hard to explain. The way they switch positions during the game, sometimes Modric drops deep to play through the press and sometimes it's Kroos, Casemiro moves forward."

Kroos created a game-high four chances and finished the game with a passing accuracy of 97.4 per cent.

Madrid could have had more goals, but Granada goalkeeper Luis Maximiano made five saves. It was the fourth time this season the young Portuguese has made five saves or more in a LaLiga game, and only Espanyol's Diego Lopez has done so on more occasions (seven).

Ancelotti included Nacho at centre-back out of a wish to give Eder Militao a rest. He substituted the lively Vinicius late on, too, but stressed that was not due to injury but out of a wish to protect the young Brazilian.

"I took Vini Jr [off] to avoid any issues," Ancelotti said, quoted on Madrid's website. "The game was heating up, for us and for Granada I thought it was best to take him off."

Real Madrid turned on the style in a 4-1 win at Granada that showed Carlo Ancelotti's team at their most vivacious.

It took them to the top of LaLiga, if only perhaps for a few hours, with Real Sociedad playing later on Sunday, with Marco Asensio, Nacho, Vinicius Junior and Ferland Mendy all on target.

Carlo Ancelotti inherited a side who lost out to city rivals Atletico in last season's title battle, but all evidence at the Nuevo Los Carmenes pointed to this incarnation of Madrid being hard to stop.

Granada had Monchu red-carded midway through the second half, but Madrid were already 3-1 up and pressing for more at that stage.

Picked out in the inside right channel by a clever pass from Toni Kroos, Asensio opened the scoring in the 19th minute when he fired into the bottom-left corner for his fourth LaLiga goal this season.

It was 2-0 in the 25th minute as Kroos and Luka Modric played a neat one-two at a corner that resulted in Kroos crossing low from the left for Nacho at the near post to prod past goalkeeper Luis Maximiano, via the underside of the crossbar.

Asensio had a shot superbly cleared off the line by Alberto Soro, and Karim Benzema threatened, but Granada hit back when Luis Suarez's fierce 25-yard strike deflected off Nacho and whistled past the wrong-footed Thibaut Courtois.

The second half began frantically, before Madrid put daylight between the teams again in the 56th minute, Vinicius putting the finishing touch to a high-speed counter-attack after Benzema carried the ball and fed Modric, who unselfishly squared to his young team-mate.

Vinicius was beginning to enjoy himself, and a lively charge from the Brazilian forward was only stopped by a wild challenge from Monchu, earning the Granada man a straight red card from Juan Martinez Munuera. A member of the home side's dugout staff also appeared to be shown red for his protests, before Mendy added a fourth for Madrid in the 76th minute as Granada lost all focus.

Ronald Koeman explained Granada's early goal and the limited resources at his disposal meant Barcelona could not play 'tiki-taka' as they battled to a draw on Monday. 

In their first match since going down 3-0 to Bayern Munich in the Champions League, Barca narrowly avoided suffering another home defeat. 

Domingos Duarte headed a second-minute opener for Granada, chasing their second straight Camp Nou win after 24 straight losses, and the Blaugrana had to wait until the final seconds of normal time to respond. 

Ronald Araujo got the leveller with a header of his own, coming from one of 54 Barca crosses. 

Since the 2005-06 season, the Catalan side have only once registered more crosses in a match, sending in 55 in a goalless draw against Malaga in November 2016. 

Sergino Dest and Memphis Depay each delivered 16 crosses, a tally topped only by Dani Alves (on five occasions) and Neymar (in the Malaga game) among Barca players in that period. 

In the same time span, no other Barca player can match Araujo's five headed attempts in a league game. 

It was a far cry from the passing patterns Pep Guardiola's team used to produce, but under-fire coach Koeman, who refused to discuss his future after the match, felt Barca had little other option in pursuit of an equaliser. 

"Our bad start made it very difficult for us," Koeman said. "It was a play with two or three previous actions that we have not played well, then the cross and the goal have arrived. 

"You face a team that is going to waste time from minute one, that is going to defend more and without spaces. It is all more difficult. 

 

"The space was on the wings, not inside. Our basic system is 4-3-3 and that's how we played in the first half, then with [Philippe] Coutinho behind and Memphis on the left. 

"But the Barca of today is not the Barca of eight years ago. It's not the game we want, but we lack players for one-on-one situations. Coutinho and [Yusuf] Demir go more inside. 

"With Ansu [Fati] and [Ousmane] Dembele we would have [these players], but they are not here and we have to look for other ways to attack, such as playing more on the outside and crossing. 

"If you see the team sheet, what else should be done? Play 'tiki-taka' if there is no space? 

"We didn't want to play like this at the start of the game, but it wasn't easy to play short and we don't have players with speed on the wing. 

"There was no room on the inside, but there was room on the outside for Dest and Memphis to cross on the left and [Oscar] Mingueza [nine crosses off the bench] on the right. 

"In the end, we were able to draw at a time when we were good at squeezing the opponent. But we have lost two points." 

Despite outlining their deficiencies, Koeman praised his players, adding: "We must highlight the attitude. 

"People leave unhappy because we don't win, but not because of the attitude. I want to highlight the energy we put into winning a point. We have had dedication and the support of our people, who have encouraged us and to whom I thank. 

"We deserved the draw and with a bit of luck we were able to win. And that also has to be seen. You have to highlight the ambition to want to win." 

Ronald Araujo's 90th-minute header rescued Barcelona from a second straight home defeat in Monday's 1-1 draw with Granada. 

Barca were in need of a response after going down 3-0 to Bayern Munich in the Champions League but instead ended up fortunate not to lose again. 

Granada's most recent LaLiga victory had been at Camp Nou in April – ending a run of 24 straight defeats in this fixture – and they threatened another upset when Domingos Duarte scored early. 

Indeed, there were only 49 seconds of normal time remaining when Araujo saved the day in front of an angry crowd, keeping Barca unbeaten in the league but scarcely easing the tension. 

Less than two minutes were played when Sergio Escudero crossed beyond Marc-Andre ter Stegen to the far post and Duarte's downward header found the net. 

Ter Stegen was beaten again by a Jorge Molina volley that just cleared the crossbar, before Barca belatedly applied some pressure at the other end. 

Sergi Roberto hit the angle of post and crossbar at the second attempt following a corner, while only a sublime Luis Maximiano save denied Araujo after a firm header. 

The hosts were slow out of the traps again after the restart, though, and it appeared as though a remarkable Luuk de Jong miss 11 minutes from time would prove costly.

Bizarrely pitched as "more dangerous than Neymar" from crosses by Ronald Koeman, the on-loan striker nodded over from point-blank range. However, Araujo soon thundered in his own header from a similar position. 

Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman has no regrets over his decision to take charge at Camp Nou.

Koeman left his role in charge of the Netherlands to return to Barca – where he established himself as a club great as a player – as coach in 2020, following Quique Setien's dismissal

The Dutchman's time at the helm has not gone smoothly, with Barca's financial difficulties making the job even more complicated.

President Joan Laporta was said to be uncertain on keeping Koeman when he took over earlier in 2021, while Barca's squad has been significantly dented by the departure of Lionel Messi in August, while Antoine Griezmann also left late in the window.

Koeman does have Memphis Depay at his disposal, with the duo having previously worked together with the Netherlands, and the former Lyon forward has made a strong start to life in LaLiga.

With Barca labouring to a third-place finish last term, Laporta subsequently started a search for a replacement for Koeman, only to stick with the 58-year-old.

Koeman, who said to NOS some of his president's previous comments were "not wise" and claimed he was "the future of Barcelona", stated prior to Tuesday's Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich that there were no issues between himself and Laporta.

Ahead of Monday's meeting with Granada, Koeman reiterated that, despite the difficulties he faces, he does not regret taking up the job and has no concerns over his future.

"I do not regret coming. It is a complicated situation for me, the club and the fans," Koeman told a news conference.

 

"We lack things. We all want the best for the club. I knew it and wanted to come. But I did not expect this situation, with the economic problems, but I fight and I want to be here and I want to win.

"I don't know anything [about my future]. I only think about the game and the team. The rest is not in my hands.

"I am calm and confident of winning games. We have to recover to have more players available, but I know that we have to win, it is only the results that count.

"I am not afraid for my future. The club decides."

Asked if he feels there is a campaign against him, Koeman said: "I don't feel that way, but everyone has the right to have a say and be for or against me. This cannot be helped."

Barca sit ninth on seven points, but remain unbeaten in their three LaLiga games so far this term. Should they win or draw Monday's game, they will have their highest point total from their first four matches of a league campaign since 2018-19.

History is also on Barca's side. At home, they have won 24 of their 25 matches against Granada in LaLiga, with the only exception coming in their loss in their last meeting at Camp Nou in the competition in April.

Inter Milan have their eye on a Premier League forward. 

With Romelu Lukaku heading back to England, the Nerazzurri are eyeing Anthony Martial.

However, Manchester United do not appear willing to let him go.

 

TOP STORY - UNITED WANT TO KEEP MARTIAL

Inter Milan want Anthony Martial to bolster their attack, according to multiple reports, but it does not sound like he is available. 

The Mail claims United are prepared to reject a £50million offer for the 25-year-old, who is still easing his way back in after injuring his knee in March.

Martial is under contract until 2024, with an option for an additional year at Old Trafford, so there is no urgency for United to move him on. 

 

ROUND-UP

- Meanwhile, Edin Dzeko's move from Roma to Inter is "imminent" according to Fabrizio Romano, with the 35-year-old set to sign through to 2023. 

- United and Arsenal have interest in Bayern Munich midfielder Corentin Tolisso, according to a Bild report, with Juventus and West Ham also rumoured to be possibilities for the Fran. 

- Bild also says Arsenal, Tottenham and Everton are eyeing Borussia Monchengladbach's Denis Zakaria

- Rennes midfielder Eduardo Camavinga is on United's radar but FootMercato reports Paris Saint-Germain could swoop for the 18-year-old despite a need to balance the books following Lionel Messi's addition.

- Leicester City and Sevilla could be set to bid for Schalke defender Ozan Kabak, according to Calciomercato.

- Veteran goalkeeper Sergio Romero is set to join Granada on a free transfer, as per Romano. 

- Everton are considering a move for 24-year-old Antwerp right-back Aurelio Buta, the Sun reports, saying the Belgian club want £3m. 

Real Madrid head coach Zinedine Zidane says his side will go until the final minute in the LaLiga title race after closing within two points of leaders Atletico Madrid on Thursday.

Madrid won 4-1 away to Granada to keep the pressure on the leaders with games to go, while moving ahead of third-placed Barcelona who are a further two points back after their 3-3 draw at Levante earlier in the week.

Atletico remain in the box seat to clinch their first LaLiga title since 2013-14, but Zidane's side remain in the hunt should there be any slip-ups.

"We'll keep going; there are two games left and we'll go to the end, until the final minute, we'll give it our all," Zidane said post-game.

Atletico's final two league games are at home to 11th-placed Osasuna and away to 18th-placed Valladolid, while Real go to ninth-placed Athletic Bilbao and host seventh-placed Villarreal on the final day.

Madrid are unbeaten in their last 16 games in LaLiga (W11 D5), the best current unbeaten run in the competition. In addition, Los Blancos have equalled their best unbeaten run in a single league campaign under Zidane, achieved in 2016-17 (P16 W12 D4).

Zidane was delighted with the win at Granada which loomed as a tricky assignment in the run home.

"It's not just about the goals," the Frenchman said. "We played very well, defensively too.

"We started the game very well, it was a complete performance. I say that because at 2-1 we didn't let our intensity drop, we scored again quickly and that shows our character.

"Thibaut [Courtois] made two or three saves, as he has been doing lately, but it's all good. In general terms it was a good win against a decent side at a tough place to come, because Granada are a side who have had a fantastic year."

Marvin was substituted at half-time after a hamstring issue, while Marcelo did not play due to a minor injury concern as Zidane fielded his youngest starting XI all season.

"Marvin picked up a knock. I hope it's nothing serious but yes, he felt something in his hamstring," Zidane said.

"Marcelo didn't play because of an injury and we didn't want to take any risks, as always. The injury is the reason why he didn't come with us."

Real Madrid kept alive their LaLiga title hopes with an emphatic 4-1 win over Granada at Nuevo Estadio de Los Carmenes on Thursday. 

The result moved Zinedine Zidane's side above Barcelona into second, two points behind leaders Atletico Madrid with just two games remaining in the season.

Luka Modric got them on their way early on with his fourth league goal of the campaign – the first time he has achieved that since 2011-12 with Tottenham in the Premier League – before Rodrygo doubled their advantage on the stroke of half-time.

Jorge Molina threatened to set up a dramatic finale with a goal 19 minutes from time, but Los Blancos comfortably sealed an 18th win in their last 19 games against Granada thanks to goals from Alvaro Odriozola and Karim Benzema.

Madrid started on the front foot and almost went ahead after 14 minutes, Benzema's header forcing a smart stop from Rui Silva. 

Zidane's men opened the scoring three minutes later, though, when Modric latched onto Miguel Gutierrez's sumptuous flicked ball over the top and rolled through Silva's legs from a tight angle. 

The visitors' dominance was rewarded again in first-half stoppage time when Rodrygo powered into the penalty area down the right-hand side and fired across Silva for his first LaLiga goal of a frustrating campaign.

Granada reduced the deficit inside the final 20 minutes, Molina stroking into an empty net after Thibaut Courtois had parried Luis Suarez's strike into his path. 

Substitute Odriozola settled any Madrid nerves, though, powering home after Eden Hazard's cross had fallen kindly to him in the 75th minute. 

Benzema added gloss to the scoreline a minute later, expertly  into an unguarded net from 35 yards after Silva's slapstick attempt to cut out Casemiro's long ball over the top.

Zinedine Zidane does not think 2020-21 will automatically be considered a "bad season" if Real Madrid fail to successfully defend their LaLiga title.

A 2-2 draw at home to Sevilla at the weekend left Madrid two points adrift of leaders Atletico Madrid with three games to go, the stalemate meaning title success was no longer in their hands.

They go to Granada on Thursday having beaten the Nazaries in 17 of their 18 LaLiga meetings, that sole defeat coming in 2013 as a result of the only own goal Cristiano Ronaldo has ever scored in Europe's top five leagues.

Their run of 11 successive league wins over Granada is their best current winning streak over a single opponent in LaLiga.

If Atletico beat Real Sociedad on Wednesday, a shock defeat for Madrid will effectively end their title hopes as they will be five points behind with two games to go.

Zidane is not losing faith, though he does not think it can be deemed a poor campaign even if they do not win LaLiga.

"Everything can happen," he told reporters. "We can win it just like we can lose it.

"The most important thing is to give everything and how we act on the pitch. We've played good games and the season is long.

"I am not going to say that it is a bad season, because that's when you don't give everything on the pitch.

"2017 was a phenomenal season and we could have lost in the last game. The most important thing is what you can control, and then whatever happens will happen."

The focus after that Sevilla draw was on the officiating, as Zidane publicly criticised referee Juan Martinez Munuera for giving a penalty against Eder Militao for handball.

The infringement was brought to the referee's attention by a VAR review, his decision to bring play back subsequently robbing Madrid of a penalty of their own at the other end after Karim Benzema had been brought down by Yassine Bounou.

Zidane was not prepared to get into the discussion again, accepting things could get "messy" if he did.

"I'm not going to get into the polemics. Things should be clear to everyone," he said. "The VAR will always help to improve football but specific plays must be clarified.

"In the end, everyone does their job. I'm not going to talk about these things anymore. I trust football.

"We will do our job and the referee his. I'm not going to say something because it makes a mess. We are going to control our work."

Ronald Koeman suggested the fourth official perhaps wanted to be "the star of the night" after the Barcelona boss was set off in Thursday's damaging 2-1 defeat to Granada.

Talisman Lionel Messi's 23rd-minute goal appeared to have Barca on track towards a fifth straight home win and three points that would have seen them leapfrog rivals Real Madrid and table-toppers Atletico Madrid in LaLiga.

However, Darwin Machis levelled and Koeman was sent to the stands prior to Jorge Molina heading home the winner 11 minutes from time to leave Barca two points off the pace with five games to play.

Koeman insisted he did not say anything insulting to the official and hinted he may challenge the decision.

"I don't understand why they have sent me off. They [said I] have disrespected the fourth official," he said in quotes reported by Marca.

"I don't understand the red. According to the delegate, it was a lack of respect for the fourth official. 

"I haven't said anything. I haven't insulted him or anything. But hey, if the fourth official wants to be the star of the night ... thank you.

"Let's see what the record says. If the record says something that I haven't said, I'll have to do something."

Koeman accepted his team made errors in a defeat few would have seen coming but the Dutchman is refusing to lose belief in a thrilling title tussle.

"We lost focus in the second half and made mistakes in defence," he added.

"We must accept today's defeat. It is reality. We had opportunities to win, but okay we have five games to go. Each one will have its difficulties. We have to prepare well for next Sunday.

"There are still possibilities. We have to accept defeat, analyse it and prepare for this tournament.

"I think we have tried to continue. We have not created many opportunities after their goals. They have closed down well and we could not create more.

"Seeing the two goals, we leave spaces where we have to close them. We have not been well defensively.

"It is a hard blow to stop depending on us. We are disappointed. We have five games to be champions. For us it is the same as for others."

Barcelona missed the chance to move top of LaLiga after suffering a shock 2-1 loss to Granada at Camp Nou on Thursday.

Lionel Messi’s 23rd-minute goal appeared to have Barca on course for a fifth straight home win, a result good enough to see them leapfrog both rivals Real Madrid and long-time leaders Atletico in the table.

However, Granada – who had failed to even manage a draw in any of their previous 25 league visits to their Catalan opponents – turned the game around to further change the outlook in the title race.

Darwin Machis equalised before Barca boss Ronald Koeman was shown a red card, meaning the Dutchman had to watch on from the stands as Jorge Molina was afforded time and space to head in a 79th-minute winner.

The dramatic turnaround had never appeared on the cards, yet Barcelona allowed their opponents to score with their only two attempts on target to cause a huge upset.

Messi had broken the deadlock after linking up with Antoine Griezmann, the Frenchman timing his delayed return pass perfectly to allow his team-mate to fizz a low, left-footed shot beyond goalkeeper Aaron Escandell and into the far corner of the net.

However, Messi was not quite so clinical with another one-on-one opportunity later in the first half and Griezmann himself failed to capitalise when presented with a clear sight of goal soon after the break, firing well wide with his right foot.

Sergi Roberto also sent a volley off target as Barca struggled to make their dominance tell – and Granada made them pay to clinch a result that will undoubtedly be celebrated in the Spanish capital.

Oscar Mingueza's failure to cut out a throughball allowed Machis to run clear and slot the ball beyond the advancing Marc-Andre ter Stegen, while Barca's goalkeeper had no chance when Molina ghosted into the penalty area to convert Adrian Marin's cross.

Ronald Koeman says he has "no interest" in further speculation over Lionel Messi's future as Barcelona battle for the LaLiga title.

According to TNT Sports, Paris Saint-Germain are preparing an "unbeatable" contract offer to try and lure Messi to the French capital.

Messi's contract expires at the end of June, so the Barca captain could walk away from Camp Nou as a free agent.

The mercurial Argentina forward sensationally handed in a transfer request last August before agreeing to remain with the Catalan giants for the 2020-21 season.

Koeman reiterated his desire for Messi to sign a new deal, but for the time being the focus is on securing a win over Granada on Thursday that would move Barca top of the table.

The Barca boss said in a press conference on Wednesday: "I am not interested in what has come out because I do not know if it is true and because I hope he continues with us.

"I have said several times that it has to end here, but it is a decision that he has to make."

Atletico Madrid's defeat at Athletic Bilbao on Sunday has given Barca the chance to take a one-point lead at the summit by beating eighth-placed Granada at Camp Nou.

Koeman does not see his side as favourites to be crowned champions as his side prepare to try and leapfrog Real Madrid and Atleti.

The former Netherlands defender said: "The team that goes first is the favourite and we are not the first."

Koeman says there is no chance Barca will get ahead of themselves in their quest to dethrone Real Madrid with six games to play.

"I have not seen the players thinking that the job is done," he added. "Now we may be the favourite according to many people, but we do not think that way. We know the difficulty of winning the games because all the rivals play for something.

"I've learned that you have to go game by game. You don't have to go crazy for the possibility that exists if you win. The important thing is tomorrow and being prepared for a difficult game."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer conceded it was not worth the risk for him to keep Paul Pogba on the field as Manchester United ran out comfortable winners over Granada en route to the Europa League semi-finals, a move which the midfielder agreed with.

United booked their place in the Europa League semis with a 2-0 win on Thursday, sealing a 4-0 aggregate victory over the Spanish side.

Edinson Cavani scored his 50th European goal – his first for United in Europe – before Jesus Vallejo headed into his own net in the closing stages as the Red Devils set up a showdown with Roma.

United have sealed their place in the semi-finals of a European competition for the 18th time in total, with Liverpool (19) the only English club to have managed more in that regard.

Pogba, however, was taken off at half-time during the contest. He teed up Cavani's opener with a clever flick, but received a yellow card shortly after and committed a total of three fouls, including one on Yangel Herrera which resulted in Granada's players crowding the referee demanding a second booking.

Solskjaer was left reeling after deciding not to take Fred off while the midfielder was on a booking in a Champions League defeat to Paris Saint-Germain in December, only for the Brazilian to then see red, and took no chances on this occasion.

He told BT Sport: "I think sometimes in a game, Paul wants to win so much, he went into a couple of tackles after his yellow card, I thought no, I don't want to risk that. Even though he played well.

"We missed three [players] today, the season's been hard enough as it is anyway."

For his part, Pogba had no issue with the reason for his substitution.

"Some tackles, a yellow card. I had to come off obviously," he told BT Sport. "The yellow card was unfortunate. It wasn't a yellow card for me but you have to accept it. We won the game, that's the most important thing.

"I know the foul just after it, I saw all the players trying to get me out. [The manager thought] It's better I come off before red card."

Solskjaer also suggested United created their own problems to an extent, saying: "[Granada] do give you a game, a physical game. You do have to defend.

"When you can't keep the ball as long as you should do, it's more difficult."

Serie A side Roma – boasting former United players Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Chris Smalling – await in the final four after they overcome Ajax in the quarter-finals.

"I've not seen too much of Roma," Solskjaer continued. "They've had two good games against Ajax, they defend well, as Italian teams always do, experienced team, and we all know [Edin] Dzeko, so any ball in the box is a dangerous one.

"We're looking forward to it of course, we're in the semi-final, it feels like a proper European tie, Roma is a club with lots of tradition, history, but we've done well against Italian teams."

United reached the semi-finals last season, only to lose to Sevilla.

They have reached four semis previously under Solskjaer, twice in the EFL Cup, once in the FA Cup and once in the Europa League, though they are yet to win a trophy during the Norwegian's tenure.

"I don't think there's any," Solskjaer responded when asked if his team were scarred by previous defeats.

"You just go into every game wanting to win. We're going into them hoping to get to the final. If we can finish this season with a final and a trophy, great."

Edinson Cavani scored his 50th goal in European competition as Manchester United saw off Granada 2-0 to claim a 4-0 aggregate win in the Europa League quarter-finals.

Cavani's milestone strike, and his first in Europe for United, was an expertly controlled volley into the bottom-right corner after six minutes at Old Trafford.

Yangel Herrera – on loan from United's rivals Manchester City – could have cancelled out United's lead on the night, while Cavani missed a great chance to add further gloss in the second half.

Donny van de Beek was then inches away from his first United goal since September, though the misses mattered little as United eventually got their second in the 90th minute, Jesus Vallejo heading into his own net as a semi-final clash with Roma was confirmed.

United wasted no time in extending their advantage in the tie – Cavani firing home from Paul Pogba's flick.

Herrera could have restored parity within two minutes, only to head wide from close range, and the Granada attacker squandered a similar opportunity in the 20th minute.

His second opportunity came from a free-kick conceded by Pogba, whose earlier booking for a foul on German Sanchez had made him something of a target for Granada, and the Frenchman was sensibly taken off at half-time.

Jorge Molina was the next to test United's resolve but headed straight at David de Gea, before Pogba's replacement Van de Beek centred for Mason Greenwood, who was unable to direct a looping header beyond Rui Silva.

Cavani could only get a shoulder to Bruno Fernandes' delightful cross, with Van de Beek then arrowing a foot wide from distance.

German dragged wide from inside United's area soon after – just another missed opportunity which Granada were left to rue as Vallejo's late own goal compounded their exit.

 

What does it mean? Liverpool's record in United's sight

United are into their 18th semi-final in all European competitions – only Liverpool (19) have appeared in more among English sides.

The Red Devils fell to eventual winners Sevilla at the last-four stage last season, and they will be determined to go one better against Roma, who just about overcame Ajax.

Half-century up for Cavani

Cavani has now scored in European competition for the 11th consecutive season, with this being his first goal in the Europa League since December 2012 (for Napoli v PSV).

It was a landmark 50th goal in UEFA competition for the striker and once again proved his importance to United as rumours circulate over his future.

No risks taken with Pogba

Perhaps scarred by the repercussions of not taking Fred off while on a booking as United suffered a damaging defeat to Paris Saint-Germain, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took no gamble with Pogba's ability to avoid a second yellow.

Pogba's flick-on for Cavani's strike was an exceptional one, and from a free role on the left the France star created two chances and registered 51 touches. However, he also conceded three fouls, and it was just not worth the risk to keep him on.

What's next?

United are at Old Trafford again on Sunday, hosting Burnley, while Granada are not back in LaLiga action until they face Eibar on April 22.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has offered a novel explanation for Manchester United's underwhelming home form this season – the players' jerseys are blending into the red canvas of banners and empty seats at Old Trafford.

United's form both at home and on the road have made for curious reading for much of the season – after all, their 6-1 defeat to Tottenham at Old Trafford in October was the Red Devils' joint-heaviest Premier League loss and saw them beaten in their opening two home games of a league campaign for the first time since 1986-87.

Yet, United have not lost a Premier League away game since January 19, 2020, winning 15 of those 23 matches on the road since.

Delving into the numbers a little more, United's 54.2 per cent win rate at home across all competitions this term is their second-worst record since the Premier League's inception in 1992 – only in 2018-19 (46.2 per cent) have they won a smaller percentage of their games at Old Trafford.

Conversely, their 65.4 per cent win rate on the road (17 victories in 26 matches) is better than they have ever managed in the same timeframe.

While many have put the drastic changes down to a lack of fans – so, less intimidating atmospheres away and reduced motivation at home – in stadiums, Solskjaer offered an alternative conclusion as he addressed the media ahead of Thursday's Europa League quarter-final second leg with Granada.

"You'll see a change now, the banners around the pitch, they're not red anymore," Solskjaer said when queried about why United failed to beat Real Sociedad and Milan at Old Trafford in the two previous rounds of the competition.

"We've looked into this and there shouldn't be any reason really, but some of the players have mentioned, that split-second decision you have to make – look over your shoulder if your team-mate is there or not – and the red shirt is on the red background with the red seats.

"So, we've tried to change that, along with the anti-racism campaign [banner], so of course it was important that wasn't red anymore.

"Then again, there shouldn't be any reason, but if you've got a 4-0 advantage [in the Real Sociedad tie] you don't really have to win that game [second leg at home], 0-0 was a good result.

"Then the first game against Milan, that's still a draw, we conceded in the last minute. I still think we've played some good football at home.

"We started off badly with three defeats to Palace, Tottenham and Arsenal early on, so we've improved."

United host Granada having won 2-0 in Spain a week earlier, and it is just as well they are in such a commanding position given the depleted nature of Solskjaer's squad.

Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw and Scott McTominay are all suspended, while Eric Bailly remains absent having contracted coronavirus and Marcus Rashford is reportedly a doubt after missing training on Wednesday.

An experimental, and potentially inexperienced, starting XI could be named, with Solskjaer confirming Axel Tuanzebe is set for a rare game at centre-back.

"I don't think it affected him," Solskjaer said when asked if Tuanzebe's confidence had been damaged after being targeted with online abuse.

"Axel has always been a very positive and hard-working boy. Victor and Harry have formed a very good partnership, so his chances have been limited. He is ready for this opportunity."

Regarding any hints of complacency, Solskjaer added: "We have got a great foundation, but we have to win. They will give everything they have got.

"Momentum is big in football. We have to make sure we go through, I always pick a team I think will win a game.

"We will go into the game wanting to win this. We want to improve our performances.

"It is a quarter-final in Europe, they need to score goals. We have seen them against Barcelona, Real Madrid how dangerous they can be. We have to play a good game and not give them those opportunities."

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