Sunday 17 November 2019

Solskjaer rolls out his big guns to send United into knockout stage

Manchester United 3 Partizan Belgrade 0

Marcus Rashford celebrates scoring United's third goal of the night. PA Photo
Marcus Rashford celebrates scoring United's third goal of the night. PA Photo

Luke Edwards

This was a convincing win secured with a sprinkle of class from Manchester United and there have not been enough performances like this under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to turn your nose up at the fact it came in the Europa League.

Instead, it was a night to focus on the positives, to cherish them and let the confidence flow in a team that has spluttered its way through so much of the season. For the first time in weeks, United look in a healthy condition again.

The fact it came against a Partizan Belgrade team that sits fourth in the Serbian League does not matter for now. Having decided to pick a side that looked close to full strength for the first time in Europe, Solskjaer was rewarded with an impressive victory and, perhaps more importantly, an attacking display that led to almost total domination of their opponents. It was as flowing as United have played, as an offensive force, for months.

This was a team selected to get the job done; to secure the victory that would make sure of qualification for the knockout stage with two games to spare. It would ensure senior players can be rested against Astana - few will be keen to make the nine-hour journey to Kazakhstan - and for the final home game against AZ Alkmaar.

Of the starting XI, only the 18-year-old Mason Greenwood could be considered one for the future. This was a chance to make a statement that showed United are good enough to win this competition.

United were comfortably the better side after it and should have taken an early lead, Marcus Rashford missing two simple chances. Rashford's upturn in form cannot mask the fact he is still not clinical enough.

Mason Greenwood fires United into the lead. PA Photo
Mason Greenwood fires United into the lead. PA Photo

At least he was involved in the opening goal. His surge took him past three Partizan players, before he poked the ball in behind for Greenwood to finish superbly.

United needed the second goal, Anthony Martial going close before the Frenchman scored a stunning solo effort. It was a touch of class.

Rashford then missed another, similar chance, but made amends with the third goal early in the second half. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Anthony Martial puts away United's second goal. Photo: REUTERS/Andrew Yates
Anthony Martial puts away United's second goal. Photo: REUTERS/Andrew Yates
Juan Mata keeps control of the ball up against Partizan Belgrade's Aleksandar Scekic (left) and Bojan Ostojic. PA Photo
Juan Mata keeps control of the ball up against Partizan Belgrade's Aleksandar Scekic (left) and Bojan Ostojic. PA Photo

Telegraph.co.uk

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