Real Sociedad’s perfect record in the Europa League was broken by teenager Alejandro Garnacho, but Manchester United was only able to finish second in Group E as a result.
To take first place in the group, Erik ten Hag’s team needed to defeat Spain by two goals or more. Garnacho’s goal, which gave them hope, came after he ran incredibly fast and finished Cristiano Ronaldo’s pass.
The 18-year-old Madrid-born winger, who was making his second start for the Red Devils, relished the moment.
After Ronaldo missed a great opportunity to extend the lead by lobbing the ball onto the roof of the net, David de Gea made two excellent saves to deny Andoni Gorosabel and Pablo Marin.
United and Sociedad both have 15 points at the end of the group stage, but Sociedad advances to the round of 16 with a better goal differential.
The Red Devils will now compete in the knockout round play-offs in February, where they will take on a club that has been demoted from the Champions League.
Teams they might face over two legs include Barcelona, Ronaldo’s old team Juventus, Ten Hag’s former club Ajax, and Shakhtar Donetsk of Ukraine.
Sevilla, Red Bull Salzburg, Sporting Lisbon, and Bayer Leverkusen are also included in the draw for the knockout round on Monday.