Manchester United confirmed their progression to the Europa League knockout stages in emphatic fashion as they blew away Partizan Belgrade at Old Trafford. Heavy rain had been falling in a grey and gloomy Manchester, but it was United who threatened to open the floodgates with an electric display that warmed the home crowd.
Mason Greenwood opened the scoring with a smart finish — his second of the tournament — before Anthony Martial‘s fine solo effort put the game to bed. Marcus Rashford later added the gloss with a thunderous strike into the top-left corner as United ran out comfortable 3-0 winners.
For the first time this season United had an air of European swagger about them and the hosts never really looked out of their depth in the torrential Manchester rain. That was largely down to the chemistry between Rashford and Martial, which will surely form the basis for any Premier League rebuild.
United crafted some Hollywood teamplay on a night that could have seen them rack up a cricket score, and the Red Devils are yet to concede a Europa league goal this season.
Ole Gunnar Soljskaer’s side still had some nervy moments to endure around their own box in the occasional spell where Partizan threatened, and the bulk of those were self-inflicted with the United centre-backs opting to back off rather than close the ball down.
Despite some slick attacking play, the hosts were a touch wasteful in front of goal in the first half, while Solskjaer will be sweating on the fitness of the impressive Scott McTominay who picked up a knock.
Manager rating (out of 10)
7 — The Red Devils had struggled to sparkle this season, but there was never any doubting Solskjaer’s intent as the Norwegian named a strong lineup that featured Greenwood, Rashford and Martial. That selection paid dividends, with that attacking trident helping themselves to a goal each as United more than doubled their Europa league goals tally.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Sergio Romero, 6 — The seasoned shot-stopper was calm and commanding inside the United penalty area as he reacted quickly and confidently to claim an early, loose, bouncing ball, but ultimately enjoyed a quiet evening as the visitors failed to fire a single shot on target.
DF Aaron Wan-Bissaka, 7 — Showed his power and pace down the right-hand side in an accomplished display, and Rashford really should have done better from the full-back’s dangerous low cross.
DF Harry Maguire, 6 — Relieved to see the offside flag go up after giving the ball away cheaply in the build-up to Partizan’s freak goal, but he escaped unscathed and fulfilled his defensive responsibilities.
DF Marcos Rojo, 7 — The Argentina man was guilty of giving Umar Sadiq too much room to pop a decent effort just wide of goal, but he showed a better level of anticipation to abruptly halt Takuma Asano’s run with a proper “no nonsense” clearance into the stands. A good performance overall from the versatile defender.
DF Ashley Young, 6 — The United skipper seemed to play with a lack of positional awareness and presented Partizan with a couple of openings as he looked to press high. Whipped one decent free kick just wide.
MF Scott McTominay, 6 — The Scotland youngster got away with a casually-stroked pass that just about reached Harry Maguire despite the best efforts of the Manchester rain. That mistake aside, showed excellent strength and composure from there-on in another near-flawless performance. He picked up a knock late on and was replaced by Jesse Lingard in the 75th minute.
MF Fred, 6 — Looked relatively comfortable as the hosts got into their groove in the first half, but the Brazilian had his hands up apologetically following a nightmarish back pass that gave Harry Maguire a scare a week after Halloween. Replaced by James Garner on 63 minutes.
MF Juan Mata, 7 — The ex-Chelsea man has found himself in the firing line this season but he put in a good display here. In one sequence, he beat the offside trap and then his marker with a perfectly-executed Cruyff turn, but Rashford couldn’t convert the Spaniard’s cut-back.
FW Mason Greenwood, 7 — Another display full of energy from the 18-year-old. The youngster just loves a cut-back and finish, and he showed his ability to execute it to perfection once again to open the scoring in the 21st minute. Now has two goals in two Europa League games at Old Trafford.
FW Anthony Martial, 8 — Produced some excellent interplay with Rashford and tucked a smartly-taken finish into the bottom corner following some wonderful work by the former, but the offside flag ruined the party. Almost got on the scoresheet with a well-struck strike that wrong-footed Vladimir Stojkovic and fizzed just past the post but made no mistake the next time with a wonderful solo goal that saw the Frenchman dance past two defenders before stabbing the ball into the bottom corner.
FW Marcus Rashford, 8 — Looked back to his best early on as he skipped past the Partizan defence with some lovely trickery before threading through Martial. The England international was rewarded for another positive run when he picked out Greenwood to open the scoring. Wasted a hatful of first-half chances to get on the scoresheet, but emphatically crashed a cracker into the top corner shortly after the break to make it 3-0.
MF James Garner, 6 — Made his first senior appearance at The Theatre of Dreams when he replaced Fred in the 63rd minute and almost had an immediate impact with an inviting cross into the penalty area that didn’t quite pick out a red shirt.
MF Jesse Lingard, N/R — Replaced McTominay as a precaution in the 75th minute but didn’t have time to stamp his authority on the game. It mattered little on a comfortable evening for the hosts.
FW Andreas Pereira, 6 — Replaced Rashford in the 67th minute but was unable to get involved as much as he would have liked as United appeared to settle at 3-0.