Teenager Alejandro Garnacho scored an outstanding goal as Manchester United ended Real Sociedad’s flawless Europa League record, but had to settle for second place in Group E.
Erik ten Hag’s side needed to win by two goals or more in Spain to finish top of the group, and their spirits were lifted when Garnacho showed terrific pace before firing Cristiano Ronaldo’s pass into the corner of the net.
It was a wonderful moment for the 18-year-old Madrid-born winger, who was making his second start for the Red Devils.
Ronaldo missed a great chance to double the lead with a lob on to the roof of the net, before David de Gea produced a fine double save to keep out Andoni Gorosabel and Pablo Marin.
United finish the group stage level on 15 points with Sociedad, who advance to the last 16 with a superior goal difference.
The Red Devils will now play in February’s knockout-round play-offs, where they will face one of the clubs dropping down from the Champions League.
Teams they could meet over two legs include Barcelona, Ronaldo’s former club Juventus, Ajax, who Ten Hag managed for five years, and Ukraine’s Shakhtar Donetsk.
Bayer Leverkusen, Sporting Lisbon, Red Bull Salzburg and Sevilla are also in Monday’s draw for the knockout round.