Ethan Laird

Manchester United Mata Greenwood
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Four-star Manchester United wins Europa League group

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Manchester United is in fine feather and showing it, smashing AZ Alkmaar in a stylish 4-0 win at Old Trafford in Europa League play on Thursday.

Juan Mata had a goal and set up two others, while Mason Greenwood scored twice after Ashley Young opened the scoring in a group-claiming victory.

[ MORE: Saka leads Arsenal comeback ]

United wins the group with 13 points, conceding just twice in six matches.

The Red Devils have won three-straight matches, as AZ joins Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur in the loss column. Up next is a Sunday visit from Everton in the Premier League before Wednesday’s League Cup quarterfinal visit from Colchester United.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer handed starts to James Garner, Brandon Williams, and Axel Tuanzebe, bringing youngsters Ethan Laird and Tahith Chong off the bench.

Greenwood, 18, now has six goals in 22 senior appearances, while Mata, 31, gets on the score sheet for the first time this season.

For his career, the award-winning Spaniard is doing okay, though: 125 goals and 149 assists in 542 senior appearances.

LIVE, Europa League: Youthful Man United face Astana

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Manchester United take on FC Astana in Kazakhstan on Thursday (kick off, 10:50 a.m. ET) as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has named a starting lineup which has an average age of 21.6 years old.

[ LIVE: Europa League scores  ]

14 teenagers are among United’s 18-man squad for the UEFA Europa League Group L game, as they’ve already reached the Round of 32 and a win against Astana would secure top spot.

Ethan Laird, Di’Shon Bernard and Dylan Levitt all make their first team debuts for United, while Luke Shaw makes his return after suffering an injury in August.

Jesse Lingard captains the team with veteran goalkeeper Lee Grant and defender Axel Tuanzebe among the handful of more experienced players.

Click on the link above to follow all the action from Astana, and we will keep up to date here at ProSoccerTalk.

Cancer survivor Taylor among 10 youths in Manchester United’s UEL team

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Manchester United is in Kazakhstan for Thursday’s fifth match day of the Europa League group stage.

Well, some of Manchester United is there.

The Red Devils only sent two players with more than 20 club appearances to the away match, as United has already qualified for the knockout stages.

[ MORE: Europa League preview ]

Those players are Luke Shaw and Jesse Lingard, with most of the bunch being quite young, though 36-year-old goalkeeper Lee Grant is going to get his first start for the club. He played 20 minutes in a League Cup match last season, but hasn’t started a senior match since his time at Stoke City ended in 2018.

“It’s a great chance for me to give Lee his first start for the club. It’s hard with young kids to give them enough games against men, professional games. We’ve got the EFL Trophy but, for me, this is a great chance to see them all together.”

Mostly, though, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is getting a look at his youngsters.

Many of the names will be alien to most fans, but Max Taylor may stand out from the pack. The 19-year-old is in the team just over a year removed from a diagnosis of testicular cancer and prescription of chemotherapy. From Manchester Evening News:

“He’s an inspiration for all the players. You can see when he’s out on the pitch there’s no fear anymore, he’s had fear in his life, when you’re on the football pitch you should enjoy yourself and I hope we can see him progress in his career. It’s a chance for us to give him extra motivation as well.”

Salient points, indeed.

United had to add spots in its team predictor app in order to accommodate Thursday’s crew, and a result on a frigid night in Kazakhstan would be remarkable.

Here are the numbers for 10 “new” players, via ManUtd.com:

41 – Ethan Laird
47 – Arnau Puigmal
49 – D’Mani Mellor
51 – Matej Kovar
52 – Max Taylor
54 – Ethan Galbraith
58 – Di’Shon Bernard
59 – Largie Ramazani
63 – Dylan Levitt
71 – Teden Mengi