Sporting CP coach Rubén Amorim has said he does not want to take Manchester United out of the Europa League.
The Red Devils finished the group stage of the Europa League with 15 points in six games, the same as Real Sociedad. But the Spanish team overtook Man Utd for first place in the group, thanks to a superior goal difference.
Man Utd will have to play a two-legged playoff against a team that dropped out of the Champions League for a place in the Europa League round of 16 after they failed to finish top of Group E.
One of his possible rivals in the play-off is Sporting CP, the club where Cristiano Ronaldo began his senior professional career. The Portuguese side failed to qualify for the Champions League round of 16 after finishing third in Group D.
Sporting CP manager Rubén Amorim makes Cristiano Ronaldo’s plea to Man Utd
Asked about facing Manchester United and Ronaldo in the Europa League, the Sporting Amorim manager said he does not want to face the Red Devils.
He also joked that if Man Utd draws, Ronaldo should stay on the bench so he doesn’t score goals against his former team.
“We don’t want Manchester United, but if we have to, Ronaldo stays on the bench so he doesn’t score goals,” Amorim was quoted as saying by the Manchester Evening News.
Meanwhile, Man Utd needed to win by at least two clear goals against Real Sociedad in their last match of the 22/23 Europa League group stage to qualify directly for the Round of 16.
But the Premier League side could only secure a 1-0 win, courtesy of an Alejandro Garnacho goal. The young Argentine put Man Utd ahead in the 17th minute with a forceful shot after Ronaldo slipped it.
Ronaldo had a glorious opportunity to score the second goal that would have made Manchester United Group E champions. The 37-year-old pounced on an ill-timed clearance from Jon Pacheco, and had just the goalkeeper to beat. But the Portuguese international shot the ball well over the crossbar.
Meanwhile, Ronaldo has been struggling for goals for Man Utd in the 22/23 season. The star striker has appeared in 15 games in all competitions for the Old Trafford outfit this season.
But he has only managed to score three goals for Man Utd this season. Of the three, only one came in the Premier League, with Ronaldo producing the other two in the Europa League.