James Garner

Getty Images

Astana’s comeback sinks young Man United

Leave a comment

Manchester United lost 2-1 at Astana, as the youngest starting lineup in Man United’s European history battled hard and took the lead but lost to the Kazakstani champions.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule

Jesse Lingard gave United the lead as the likes of Mason Greenwood, James Garner and Angel Gomes impressed as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer have seven players their United debuts throughout the game. Second half goals from Shomko and an own goal from Bernard gave Astana the win, as Tahith Chong missed a glorious chance for United to double their lead just before Astana struck twice.

Despite the defeat United still have a chance of finishing in top spot in Group L heading into their final group game against AZ Alkmaar at home, while Astana had no hope of qualifying before the game but secured the biggest victory in their history.

Early on Mason Greenwood had a powerful effort on goal which was pushed away, as United’s young side started brightly.

Two of their more experienced campaigners combined for the opening goal as Luke Shaw fed Lingard, captaining United for the first time, who smashed home to end his run of 28 games without a goal for the Red Devils.

Lingard sent another effort wide soon after and another deflected just over, as Astana took their time to get into the game.

The hosts started the second half well as Bernard almost sliced one into his own net and then Maevski went close.

Shaw then did superbly to set up a glorious chance for Tahith Chong at the back post but he shanked his effort over the bar with the goal gaping.

Moments later Astana made United pay for that miss as Shomko drilled home a low effort into the far corner to send the home fans wild.

Moments later they were celebrating again as a cross from Antonio Rukavina deflected off Bernard and in to turn the game on its head.

Sigurjonsson and Murtazaev both went close as Astana pushed hard to put the game to bed, but their goalkeeper Eric pulled off a tremendous save to deny a fantastic free kick from Angel Gomes.

Eric denied Mason Greenwood with another flying save as Astana were pinned back late on as United’s youngster finished with a flourish but tasted defeat in Kazakhstan.

Manchester United runs past Partizan

Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Manchester United outclassed Partizan Belgrade in a 3-0 win on Thursday, cementing its status in the knockout rounds of the Europa League.

Mason Greenwood had a goal and an assist, while Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial also scored at Old Trafford.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

United beat Partizan 1-0 in Belgrade, and sits six points clear of them. AZ Alkmaar also won today and has eight points to the Red Devils’ 10.


Three things we learned

1. Red Devils follow plan to a 3: This fixture was always supposed to be straightforward, and United was able to put it on cruise control with goals from Greenwood and Martial before halftime. Rashford blasted an Ashley Young feed home four minutes into the second half to cast out any thoughts of a Partizan comeback. As a bonus, the domination — Shots were 14-2 — allowed 18-year-old James Garner to get a half hour run.

2. Teenage dream: Greenwood turned 18 just five weeks ago, but he finishes like a season veteran. Look how coolly he slots home near post while giving the far post eyes. He’s yet to score in 11 Premier League appearances, but those goals are coming, aren’t they? Now if only the Red Devils supporters and the media can avoid demanding he score 30 a season before he’s ready (looks at Marcus Rashford).

3. In-form Rashford finding his groove: United’s 22-year-old striker got on the score sheet for the fourth time in five matches. He was blanked against Bournemouth at the weekend but now has five goals and an assist in his last quintet of matches. The expectations placed on him so early in his career were stupid, but they’ve created a pretty hardened man. Now if only he can figure out that whole penalty thing.

Man of the Match: Rashford.

Live, Europa League: Man United, Wolves, Arsenal in action

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Three Premier League teams are in UEFA Europa League action on Thursday, as Wolves and Man United face tricky tests away from home and Arsenal have a winnable home match.

[ LIVE: Europa League scores  ] 

Man United make seven changes for their trip to Belgrade to play Partizan in Group L, as the likes of David De Gea and Marcus Rashford rested with DDG not even on the bench. Youngsters James Garner and Brandon Williams start for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s side who have four points from their first two games of the group stage. Anthony Martial returns to the starting lineup in a huge boost for Solskjaer.

In Group K Wolves make five changes with Kilman, Vinagre, Gibbs-White, Doherty and Saiss coming into the team. Nuno Espirito Santo clearly has one eye on Sunday’s trip to Newcastle in the Premier League but Raul Jimenez and Patrick Cutrone remain up top.

Unai Emery‘s Arsenal have won both of their opening group stage games and the likes of Bellerin and Holding will again feature as they continue their long recoveries from injury.

Elsewhere Rangers head to Porto, Celtic host Lazio and Roma play Borussia Monchengladbach in some tasty looking clashes across Europe.

Below is the schedule in full for the games which kick off across two windows at 12:55 p.m. ET and 3 p.m. ET.


Early games (kick off time, 12:55 p.m. ET)

Partizan Belgrade v. Manchester United
AZ Alkmaar v. Astana
Qarabag v. APOEL Nicosia
Young Boys v. Feyenoord
FC Porto v. Glasgow Rangers
CSKA Moscow v. Ferencvaros
Ludogorets v. Espanyol
Gent v. Wolfsburg
St Etienne v. Oleksandriya
Istanbul Basaksehir v. RZ Pellets WAC
Roma v. Borussia Monchengladbach
Besiktas v. Braga
Slovan Bratislava v. Wolves

Late games (3 p.m. ET)

Sevilla v. Dudelange
Dynamo Kiev v. FC Copenhagen
Malmo v. FC Lugano
Getafe v. Basel
Trabzonspor v. Krasnodar
PSV v. Linz ASK
Sporting Lisbon v. Rosenborg
Celtic v. Lazio
Rennes v. Cluj
Arsenal v. Vitoria
Frankfurt v. Standard Liege

Report: Man United shuts door on Pogba departure

Getty Images
1 Comment

If the latest reports are to be believed, Paul Pogba is staying for at least another few months in Manchester.

Despite dropping hints through media interviews and his agent, Mino Raiola, that he wanted to leave Old Trafford this summer, Paul Pogba won’t be allowed to leave this window, according to a report from the Telegraph. It states that with the close of the Premier League transfer window, Pogba opportunity to leave is closed, at least until January or next summer.

[READ: Report: Eriksen turns down new Spurs offer]

Pogba is coming off a wild last 12 months. He went from winning the World Cup with France to re-joining his Man United teammates under Jose Mourinho. The pair famously feuded and Mourinho clearly lost his touch with the squad, leading to his dismissal and the introduction of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. All the while Pogba had an up and down season, but for a time in February and March, he was one of the best players in the Premier League. However, the lack of a summer break last year caught up with him, and his performances suffered late in the season.

Heading into this year, it appeared that Pogba was hoping to move, especially reportedly to play for his idol, Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid. However, Pogba signed a five-year contract with an option year when he re-joined the club in 2016. Ultimately, it seems that Pogba is much too valuable to Man United’s fortunes this season, especially if he were to leave for Real Madrid or even Juventus after the Premier League window is closed.

Pogba is going to be counted on by Solskjaer to be a key member of the squad this season. Nemanja Matic appears to be on the way down after a tremendous career in England, while Scott McTominay, Fred, James Garner and Angel Gomes all are in need of experience in top games. Based on Pogba’s assists against Chelsea, the club’s fortunes clearly rest on his outstanding talent. It’s now up to Pogba to put his head down, and keep his eye on leaving for next year.

Solskjaer: ‘We just need consistency’

Getty Images
Leave a comment

In a vague, general word, Manchester United manager knows exactly what his club have been missing. Consistency.

More specifically, consistent success.

In a sit-down interview with the BBC, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer mentioned striving for consistency in performances on no less than four occasions, including when speaking about Alexis Sanchez. Man United won eight straight matches in all competitions and 10 of its first 11 under the Norwegian manager.

[READ: De Ligt lands in Turin ahead of Juventus move]

And yet, the consistency wasn’t there late in the season, when Man United faltered down the stretch and won just two of its last ten matches to close the season on a sour note. Man United finished in sixth place, and while Solskjaer said he believed it would be a challenge to break into the top four, he said with some consistent performances, Man United could achieve its goals.

“We have to aim for further up than fourth,” Solskjaer told the BBC. “I would rather be an optimist and be wrong than a pessimist and be right. I am not used to us being fifth or sixth but that is where we are at. That is the size of the challenge. I love that challenge.

“We have to work with the players, sign the right types and gradually make our way to the challenging line. Our players do have quality. They do have a chance. We just need consistency. We have to keep working every single day and not take our eyes off the target. Everyone gets off line at some point but you can’t let it drift too far because then you won’t get to the overall goal.”

Some Man United fans have been mumbling and rumbling due to the slow start in this summer’s transfer window. Ander Herrera and Antonio Valencia have both departed on free transfers, while only Daniel James and Aaron Wan-Bissaka have come in. While it’s not the improvements some fans were hoping for, it’s helped give some of the young players, like James Garner, Tahith Chong, Angel Gomes and Mason Greenword, some hope that they can get minutes.

Perhaps the push from the young players for first team minutes will make Man United a bit more competitive in training again, which can only help in terms of having success on the field.

The big question remains, which Man United team will we see this season. The one from Solskjaer’s first two months on the job, or the one from his last six weeks.