Three things learned: Spurs, Man Utd, Leicester in UEL 1st legs (video)
An upset bug bit AC Milan and Bayer Leverkusen in the early round of kickoffs during first legs of the Europa League Round of 32 on Thursday.
There were also minor surprises in two of three 1pm ET kickoffs involving Premier League teams.
[ WATCH: PST unfiltered on Pulisic, Tuchel, more ]
Manchester United throttled Real Sociedad 4-0 in Spain, the surprise being the definitive scoreline, while Leicester City surprised in a different way -- blanked in Prague.
1. Bale rolls back the years, Son backs his boss again
Wolfsberger 1-4 Tottenham Hotspur
Gareth Bale had a goal and an assist in the blowout win, his first match with multiple goal contributions since he scored a brace Real Madrid’s 2-2 tie at Villarreal on Sept. 1, 2019.
He also raised his slow-developing totals on loan to Spurs by 50%, giving him five goals and an assist in 865 minutes (17 appearances).
His day was, quite simply, very good. He was 16-of-16 on passes with four key passes in 64 minutes, converting three-of-five dribbles and winning 7-of-11 duels. There were also four tackles for the Welsh star.
It was an all-around feel-good performance for Jose Mourinho’s men, with Heung-min Son following up a defense of his boss by scoring off Bale’s assist in the 13th minute.
Harry Winks, Erik Lamela, and Matt Doherty also registered assists on the day and Lucas Moura and Carlos Vinicius were amongst the goals.
And Mourinho was without Harry Kane with a minor injury concern. So the star of the show didn’t put any tread on the tires while the boss used only one non-back the full 90 minutes (Winks).
Spurs now bring four away goals back to North London and Mourinho can devote most of his attention to West Ham away on Sunday and Burnley at home on Feb. 28.
Back to Bale, how many times have we seen this ruthless cut back before a clinical finish? Vintage Bale.
2. Solskjaer’s men send powerful message, then give debut to Diallo
Real Sociedad 0-4 Manchester United
La Liga outfit La Real may have a number of notable names Including David Silva, Nacho Monreal, and Mikel Oyarzabal, but there was a gulf in class against a rampaging Red Devils side.
Bruno Fernandes was sensational again, scoring twice to join Marcus Rashford and Daniel James on the score sheet. James also had an assist, as did Eric Bailly and Fred.
United put 10 of their 13 shots on target and put on a counterattacking clinic in Turin against their Basque County “hosts.”
A 3-0 lead allowed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to deploy Amad Diallo on debut and the 18-year-old Atalanta product delivered some excitement over 13 minutes, converting all three of his dribbles and drawing a foul on just seven touches.
The only bad news was an injury to Scott McTominay, with Paul Pogba already out of the lineup.
How about this pass from Fred?
3. Injury-hit Foxes open door to Czech powers
Slavia Prague 0-0 Leicester City
Handed possession by its hosts, Leicester City failed to produce much danger in a worrying first leg.
Slavia Prague might count themselves unlucky to not take more of an advantage to England after out-attempting Brendan Rodgers’ men 14-8
Leicester could not bring Wesley Fofana, Timothy Castagne, Wesley Fofana, Ricardo Pereira, and Ayoze Perez to the Czech Republic.
Other Europa League first legs, 1pm ET kickoffs
Olympiacos 4-2 PSV Eindhoven
Young Boys 4-3 Bayer Leverkusen
Red Star Belgrade 2-2 AC Milan
Dynamo Kiev 1-1 Club Brugge
Braga 0-2 AS Roma
Krasnodar 2-3 Dinamo Zagreb