Five things Erik ten Hag got right as Man Utd ease past Sheriff in Europa League

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Erik ten Hag will be pleased as punch after getting Manchester United's first Europa League win of the campaign with a routine victory over Sheriff Tiraspol.

While their opponents cost just a fraction of United's squad, travelling all the way into Eastern Europe to Moldova's capital Chisinau would hardly be Ten Hag's idea of a perfect Thursday night. But they came through the match unscathed and with three points.

Jadon Sancho opened the scoring with a skilful effort while Cristiano Ronaldo doubled the lead shortly after from the penalty spot when Diogo Dalot was fouled in the box. It was Ronaldo's first goal of the season but where did Ten Hag get it right?

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Jadon Sancho finding his feet

This felt like a bit of a statement to Gareth Southgate. After being left out of the England squad, Sancho grabbed the opener for United at a good time when things could have turned stale.

Some brilliant footwork allowed the 22-year-old to slot past Maksym Koval with a strong shot that gave the Ukrainian no hope. Southgate might not fancy the forward but he is enjoying some of his best football since his £73million move to Old Trafford.

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Cristiano Ronaldo off the mark

Scoring a penalty against a Moldovan side in the Europa League would not be Ronaldo's idea of the perfect goal to get his season up and running. But in his current situation, he celebrated it with a siuuu of relief.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner might not be a guaranteed starter under Erik ten Hag while his efforts trying to leave the club in the summer failed, but Ronaldo can still be an important part of this United team.

It might be ridiculous to tell the Portuguese icon that he needs more confidence but his goal against Sheriff will help not just him but his team-mates with a happy Ronaldo aiding a happy camp.

Christian Eriksen oozes quality

The defeat to Real Sociedad certainly rose some eyebrows at United, opening their Europa League campaign with a defeat. Ten Hag was taking no chances this time in Chisinau and started his best players – including Eriksen.

United have spent over £200m this year but their best signing might just be the Danish playmaker, whose on-field intelligence is priceless and a far-cry from the club's midfield options last season.

Casemiro blooded

At some point, you would imagine that Ten Hag will have Casemiro in the starting XI but Scott McTominay is doing a fine job keeping the Brazilian out. The defensive midfielder joined from Real Madrid and was pinpointed as the solution to all of United's problems in midfield.

But he cannot get a game, though Ten Hag brought him on at half-time against Sheriff to give him some free minutes to get up to speed and adapt to the Dutchman's type of football. Add a midfielder of such pedigree to this squad and suddenly the Red Devils have a very tasty team.

Harry Maguire firmly out

The fact that Ten Hag turned back to Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez for this match just underlines who are the preferred back two for United now. And that does not include Maguire, who might even have to look elsewhere to get his career back on track.

However, the decision is completely warranted – the French-Argentine connection in defence works a lot better and they look much more assured than one that had Maguire in it. This is a crossroads moment for the England international, who cannot deny that his form has plummeted.

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  • Cristiano Ronaldo
  • Gareth Southgate
  • Harry Maguire
  • Manchester United FC
  • Erik ten Hag
  • Jadon Sancho

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