Greenwood helps Manchester United to impressive win over Partizan
Europa League, Old Trafford: Manchester United 3 (Mason Greenwood 21, Anthony Martial 33, Marcus Rashford 49) Partizan Belgrade 0
Three beautiful goals and performance of actual, unusual menace saw United qualify for the knockout stages of the Europa League. They have now kept four consecutive clean sheets in the competition, and, if they can sustain this attacking enterprise and cohesion, have a chance of doing something this season.
United set about Partizan from the off, taking advantage of their visitors' need for three points. But thanks to a couple of missed chances from Marcus Rashford, it was not until the 22nd minute that they took the lead, his fine pass allowing Mason Greenwood to showcase his ludicrous skill and composure once more.
Eleven minutes later United extended their advantage, Greenwood's pressure giving the ball to Anthony Martial, who beat two men and the keeper in brilliant fashion.
Partizan knew they were beaten, but shortly after the restart United rubbed it in, Rashford drilling home first-time after Ashley Young cushioned into his path. The rest of the game then drifted away with no alarms and no surprises, United opting to rest rather than punish. Whether they can play like this against better sides remains to be seen, but this was a step in the right direction.
Marcus Rashford of Manchester UnitedGetty Images
United looked like a football team. United played with far greater attacking intensity than usual, and the movement of their front three was better than for a long time. They were inspired by Marcus Rashford, but Mason Greenwood was also excellent and has reached the point at which he can only improve by playing in the first team. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs to find a way of making that happen as a matter of urgency. He is ready.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Marcus Rashford (Manchester United) At his best he is very difficult to play against, his combination of pace, bravery and imagination too much for most defenders. He was by far the best player on the pitch tonight, scoring a lovely goal and making another. If he can start scoring simpler and scruffier goals, he will be one of the world's greatest.
Anthony Martial - Manchester UnitedGetty Images
6’ - Eek! Martial and Rashford swap, martial zoning inside off the line, and Greenwood then spreads to Wan-Bissaka. He crosses low and the ball clips a defender, falling nicely for Rashford, on the left of the box ... and he connects nicely, sweeping just wide of the far post. That was a great chance and he should've scored, but at the same time it was a good effort.
9’ - United move it well, Martial moving away from goal then spinning to slide Mata in down the left. He sends Pavlovic for a bag of chips, feinting outside then inside, rolling into Rashford's path, but Stojovic is very close to him and blocks. Perhaps he could've gone under him, but if United keep at it, they'll score.
22’ - GOAL! Manchester United 1-0 Partizan (Greenwood) MASON GREENWOOD IS AN EXPERT! Rashford plays what's either a wondrous pass with the outside of his boot, or a fluke when looking for Mata, to Greenwood, who feints the shot with his right foot then nips in on his left before dragging a shot near post, Solskjaer-style, with the keeper expecting one to the far.
33’ - WHAT A GOAL! Manchester United 2-0 (Martial) And that is why you persevere! Good pressure from Greenwood forces the mistake from Urosevic, charging down his clearance, and the ball breaks to Martial. With a brilliant first touch, he puts the ball into space for himself, beating Pavlovic, takes another perfect touch inside Ostojic, then another to see off Pavlovic again as he slides in from behind then, a stride early, bends a finish around Stojkovic as he comes out. Oh my absolute days! That footwork should be hanging in a gallery!
35’ - Lovely from Rashford, who weaves in midfield then plays Martial in! He might go around the keeper, or steady himself, but instead goes to chip him and the ball sails over.
49’ - GOAL! Manchester United 3-0 Partizan (Rashford) United have had their full-back high all night, leaving the two centre-backs, Fred and McTominay to cope. So Young is in space when Mata drives a high pass out to him, his cushion back to Rashford is nice ... and what a finish he applies, flinging himself into a rising left-footer that flies high into the roof at the near post. It reminds me a little of Cantona's goal at Wimbledon on the first day of the 96-97 season; brilliant.
Manchester United have not been beaten in the Europa League for 15 games, winning 11 and drawing four. This is the longest active run of any team in the competition.
Marcus Rashford has scored five times in seven home appearances this seasons, once more than he managed in 23 appearances last season.