Manchester United easily secured their place in the Europa League knockouts thanks to Anthony Martial, Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford.
Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford were on target as Manchester United ensured their place in the Europa League knockout stages with a convincing 3-0 win over Partizan Belgrade.
Knowing a win would be enough to see them through – courtesy of a better head-to-head record against Partizan in Group L – United wasted little time in asserting their authority, with Mason Greenwood capping a dominant start in the 21st minute.
Martial added a magnificent second soon after, with Rashford, who had been wasteful in the first half, making it 3-0 shortly after the restart as United cruised into the round of 32 with two matches to spare.
Martial and Partizan’s Umar Sadiq both had goals disallowed for offside in the opening five minutes, before Rashford drilled wide from 10 yards out.
Rashford had another opportunity three minutes later, only for Vladimir Stojkovic to rush out and deny the England forward, but Greenwood made no such mistake.
Having benefitted from some dreadful Partizan marking, Greenwood kept his cool to slot beyond Stojkovic after setting himself from Rashford’s neat pass.
United were two ahead just after the half hour – Martial prodding in an excellent finish after driving through Partizan’s defence with some sublime footwork.
Rashford finally found his shooting boots after the restart, slamming home a brilliant first-time finish from Ashley Young’s cushioned touch.
When celebrations go wrong
— UEFA Europa League (@EuropaLeague) November 7, 2019
Young almost went from provider to scorer with a terrific free-kick moments later, his strike glancing the side netting before Fred drew a fine stop out of Stojkovic.
A fine night for United was blemished with 15 minutes remaining – Scott McTominay forced off through injury – but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side will be able to reflect on a job well done at Old Trafford.
What does it mean? United finally making life easier for themselves
It has been a hard slog of a campaign so far for Solskjaer, whose side had appeared to turn a corner prior to their defeat at Bournemouth last time out.
However, with progression in this competition secured, United can at least now switch their full focus to correcting their dismal league form.
5 – Marcus Rashford has scored five goals in seven appearances at Old Trafford this season, one more than he managed in 23 home appearances across all competitions last season (four). Acclimated. pic.twitter.com/xyUejX22XN
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) November 7, 2019
United’s vibrant attack come good
It was an ideal night for United’s strikers, with all three of them getting in on the act. While starting both of his first-choice forwards in the form of Rashford and Martial may have been a risk, it paid off for Solskjaer, while Greenwood – who became the youngest player to score and assist in a single European game for the Red Devils – continued his impressive start to life in United’s first team.
McTominay’s fitness a cause for concern
McTominay has been one of United’s most consistent performers so far this term, but after a robust challenge from Aleksandar Scekic, the Scotland international was unable to continue and could now be a doubt for Sunday’s clash with Brighton and Hove Albion.
Key Opta Facts:
– Manchester United have not lost any of their last 15 games in the Europa League (W11 D4); the longest active unbeaten run of any current team in the competition.
– The Red Devils are unbeaten in their last six games at Old Trafford across all competitions (W3 D3); their longest such run under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
– This was United’s sixth consecutive clean sheet in the group stages of the Europa League, having last conceded against Fenerbahce back in November 2016.
– Anthony Martial has scored five goals in his last seven starts for Manchester United in all competitions, as many as he had in his previous 17 starts for the club.
– Marcus Rashford has scored five goals in seven appearances at Old Trafford this season, one more than he managed in 23 home appearances across all competitions last season (four).
– Aged 18 years and 37 days, Mason Greenwood became the youngest player to score and assist in a European game for Manchester United.
United host Brighton the Premier League on Sunday, while Partizan are in action against Indija in the Serbian top flight.