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Manchester United 0-1 Real Sociedad: Three talking points including the controversial penalty against Martinez

Manchester United kicked off their Europa League campaign with a disappointing 1-0 loss against Real Sociedad on Thursday.

Erik ten Hag made several changes to his side with Cristiano Ronaldo, Harry Maguire, Casemiro, Victor Lindelof and Fred named in the starting XI.

Ronaldo thought he had a Europa League debut goal when he headed a brilliant cross from Diogo Dalot past Sociedad’s goalkeeper.

To his dismay, he was judged offside by the linesman which proved to be the right call.

The Spanish club came back strongly in the second half, scoring the only goal of the game via a penalty.

It was a controversial call by the referee who adjudged Lisandro Martinez’s block as a handball.

Brais Mendez stepped up and slotted the ball past David de Gea with aplomb.

Here are our three talking points from United’s opening loss in the European competition.

Baffling penalty decision

We have seen some really disappointing VAR calls this season but the one against Man United tonight stands out. 

David Silva’s shot bounced off Lisandro Martinez’s knee before striking his elbow. 

The referee was quick to point to the penalty spot. Once the incident went to the VAR, the on-field call was expected to be overturned. 

But to everyone’s surprise, even the VAR deemed the offence worthy of a penalty. It was a horrific call from the officials who have the technology to rely on.

Maybe the people sitting behind those monitors should explain how a player is allowed to defend.

This sort of judgment in a top tournament is a criminal act!

Casemiro and Fred had a night to forget

Much was talked about the potential midfield partnership of Fred and Casemiro after their success in the Brazilian set-up. However, the pair looked very rusty tonight. 

Fred started the game in a number 10 role. He saw a lot of ball in the first half but lacked the creativity to create any openings for United.

Casemiro, who made his first start for the Red Devils, failed to impose his authority in the centre of the park. 

His passing was wayward and he was too slow to react at times.

On this display, Scott McTominay will keep his starting spot for a few more weeks.

Cristiano Ronaldo still not up to the mark

After being used as a substitute in the last four Premier League games, Ronaldo was handed a start but failed to deliver.

It was not a poor performance but it was not also something which will force Ten Hag to start him on Sunday.

The striker got a few half chances but was unable to put the ball at the back of the net.

He got one glorious opportunity after the break when Bruno Fernandes floated a cross in the six-yard box.

The goal was there to be taken but the five-time Ballon d’Or winner failed to make a proper connection with the ball.

He needs to step up his game or Ten Hag will continue to use him in a bit-part role.