The reigning Premier League champions had a first-half Inigo Martinez own goal to thank on Wednesday night, as victory over the San Sebastian outfit keeps them top of Group A
|VIEW FROM OLD TRAFFORD
|By Wayne Veysey
Manchester United maintained their ascendancy in group A following a performance that was more authoritative than the 1-0 scoreline suggests.
Wayne Rooney was once again at the fore with a bustling display but there were some nervous moments, with Real Sociedad twice hitting the woodwork. Nevertheless, United fully deserved their victory, and were majestic at times, which will ease some of the pressure on David Moyes.
The Red Devils failed to extend their lead despite dominating possession, leading to a nervous second period, but held on to claim all three points and cement their place at the top of Group A.
Moyes opted to rest striker Robin van Persie due to niggling toe and groin complaints meaning Chicharito was handed an opprtunity in attack, while, for the visitors, experienced midfielder Xabi Prieto earned his first Real start for a month at the expense of Ruben Pardo.
The home side had failed to win in their last two appearances at Old Trafford, dropping points against West Brom and Southampton, but any tension around the ground was blown away early on when Martinez put through his own goal to launch a frantic opening period.
Patrice Evra tenaciously won possession on the left flank before Rooney bamboozled the away defence and unleashed a fierce strike against the upright. Martinez made the worst possible job of attempting to clear, instead diverting the ball home.
Rooney was at the heart of much of United's good work and he drew an excellent reaction save from Claudio Bravo when he met Rafael's 14th-minute cross
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The visitors displayed plenty of intent after the break as the tension at Old Trafford began to ramp up; when a bout of penalty box pinball almost resulted in Jonny Evans putting through his own goal, it became clear that the momentum was shifting.
Phil Jones then powered an unmarked header towards goal from another well-worked short corner to draw a sharp stop from Bravo but, in an increasingly stretched contest, De Gea's crossbar came to his rescue again when Real full-back Alberto De la Bella skewed a left-wing cross just before the hour.
United then hit the woodwork themselves, as Antonio Valencia latched on to Rooney's delightful pass before drilling the ball against the base of the far post. Kagawa saw his follow-up blocked and the ex-Borussia Dortmund player was then denied by a last-ditch tackle from Carlos Martinez having errantly chosen not to strike first time.
Valencia returned the favour to Rooney moments later with a flick-on that his team-mate blasted over, before the England striker scuffed a late chance following a whipped delivery into the box. While United failed to add gloss to the scoreline, the result all but ends winless Real's qualification hopes.