Manchester United edged to victory over the Kazakhstan champions in the opening fixture of their Europa League campaign.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaers men laboured to victory, but it could have been more comfortable if it wasn’t for some fabulous saves from Eric in the Astana goal.
Fred made his first start of the season and crashed a rasping drive onto the top Eric’s bar early doors. The 37-year-old keeper then saved twice from Marcus Rashford proving his reflexes remain sharp. The Astana keeper kept up his heroic’s in the second half by palming a Fred free-kick away from danger.
Manchester United had to rely on a piece of brilliance from their 17-year-old academy graduate Mason Greenwood to break the deadlock. The highly regarded wonderkid turned his man inside out before firing the ball through the keeper’s legs. The Red Devils couldn’t add to their lead despite Lingard’s rasping effort which was again saved by Eric, before Diogo Dalot missed the target with the rebound.
Let’s see how the Man United players got on…
Looked sharp as he raced out of the 18-yard box and used his head well to clear early on, but was very rarely called upon on a quiet night for the Argentinean keeper.
Was a constant threat down the right-hand side but was poor all night with his delivery. Often took an extra touch or floated the ball into the area when a first time, whipped ball was needed. Missed a glorious chance at the back post with the net empty after Lingard’s initial effort was saved but did produce a good defensive header late on.
Looked composed on the ball but committed himself twice in the first half when he was the last man which enabled Astana to break through on goal. Did manage to get his head to the ball when last man with the Astana striker lurking behind him, preventing a good chance for the Kazakhstan champions.
Looked comfortable at this level despite giving the ball away on a couple of occasions. Had very little defensive work to do, but did it well when called upon and read the game well.
Axel Tuanzebe in the first half vs. FC Astana:
100% defensive aerials
Comfortable. 👏👏👏 pic.twitter.com/gbk6rtflBt
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) September 19, 2019
Put a very dangerous ball in low across the face of goal which just evaded two United players. Often gave the ball away on his first start of the campaign and was dispossessed after taking too long to make up his mind more than once. Had a fierce drive whistle past the post late on before being subbed off for Ashley Young on 78 mins.
Started the game well and hit the bar with a brilliant long-range effort. The Brazilian’s passing was good and had a decent free-kick well saved in the second-half, however, failed to fully grasp his chance back in the starting XI.
Kept winning the ball back well and playing simple passes, often forwards and kick starting United moves. Screened the backline well and controlled the centre of the park.
Free kick and corner delivery was good in the first half before falling away in the second period. Had some lovely touches especially when spinning away from a couple of Astana defenders just inside box before finding Rojo in space.
Played through the middle again and really should have scored at least one of the four presentable chances that came his way in the opening period. Another showing that will do little to quiet those who feel he just isn’t clinical enough to play as the main striker for a club with such high expectations.
Greenwood 8 (MOTM)
Had a couple of half chances that he whipped past the post before finding the match winning moment. Faked to go inside on his left before cutting back onto his right and turning the defender inside out before firing through the keepers legs at the near post.
Worked hard for his side but was a poor night for the Dutchman. Was substituted after 67 minutes without making much of an impact.
Had some nice touches and passes when coming on, evaded a couple of players well with quick feet before misplacing a pass.
Had a great shot tipped onto the post by Eric, started a late breakaway off and finished it by trying to chip the keeper but was easily saved.
Made little impact after coming on but Astana managed to get passed him and deliver crosses late on.
"Mason Greenwood scored a stunning goal…"
"It almost reminded me of @Persie_Official chopping on that left foot!"
Owen Hargreaves saw shades of RVP about that goal from the latest academy graduate to come good for Man Utd 🇾🇪
A bright future ahead… pic.twitter.com/SNOqDvjQkb
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) September 19, 2019
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