United ought to have won by a few but will be happy enough with the points, given how they came about. Mason Greenwood will be too good not to be in the first team very soon, if he isn't already.
- 2nd Half
- 1/2 Time
Manchester United - FC Astana
Europa League - 19 September 2019
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Full-time: Manchester United 1-0 Astana
There'll be two added minutes and Rukavina crosses into the box, but Tuanzebe does really well to slide in and bang away.
Nice from United, Greenwood breaking with Mata, Rashford and Lingard around him. He picks Lingard, who has to swivel into a shot, which Erik blocks. He's had a really good game.
Rashford's pace forces a corner out of Tomasevic, and before it can be taken, Fred is booked for an earlier foul as Sigurjonsson tried to counter.
I think Rashford is now on the right, Lingard in the middle and Greenwood on the left.
Final change for Astana: Mubele replaces Rotariu.
Dalot chucks a lollipop at Tomasov and dashes outside him but his cross beats Lingard. Lingard, though retrieves the ball and punishes a drive towards the near post ... Erik shoves it against the post, and Dalot can't control his follow-up with the goal gaping.
Young replaces Rojo. United take the free-kick short and build once more.
United press for a second, Tuanzebe stepping forward and earning a free-kick from Janga.
Rojo has time outside the box so cuts across a screecher; it's going just wide but Erik wasn't to know and he dives to flick away. The ref, though, awards a goalkick.
Like Marcus Raashford, Greenwood opened his account in the Europa League. The club are surer he's got the necessary than they were about Rashford.
Elsewhere, Wolves' miserable start to the season continues: they're 0-1 down to Braga.
GOAL! INTRODUCING MASON GREENWOOD! Manchester United 1-0 Astana (Greenwood) United move it from right to left, Greenwood pulling over, swaying left, then, when Rotariu is unbalanced, dipping outside him and sliding an expert's finish under Eirk. He knows something, and he's 17!
Again, the ball drops to Fred outside the box, and again he eschews the shot because it's on his right foot. I'm not having that a professional can't practise to be better than that.
Astana are starting to threaten on the counter, Rotariu pumping over a cross that jones misses. Tomasov gathers, can make nothing of it.
Ch ch changes: Chong, who's had a difficult night, is replaced by Lingard, while Mata replaces Gomes. I'd have liked to see a bit more of him.
Partizan, who were trailing, now lead AZ 2-1.
Astana are starting to believe, and Sigurjonsson goes down the left then crosses to the back post where Tomasov has a free header of which he can make nothing.
United need something here - it's been a while since they made a chance.
Here come Astsana! Tomasov runs at Rojo, nips inside to make an angle, and caresses a lovely cross to the far post where, with Dalot dreaming, Rotario arrives ... but not quite early enough to score, stretching to poke wide.
...and he goes over the innermost man of the wall, who ducks; Erik pushes behind and the corner comes to nowt.
United win another free-kick, 25 yards out, just right of the D; Fred fancies it...
Fred is the most one-footed player I've seen since the heady days of Antonio Valencia. He has the chance to shoot on his right, but given what happened last time - I don't think I reported that because it wasn't quite bad enough to merit it - he passes sideways and the opening vanishes.
Rashford curls over wall and bar.
Rashford runs across Maevski, who knocks him over. Free-kick United, 25 yards out, left of centre...
United win yet another corner and yet again it causes trouble, Greenwood poking goalwards after a scramble and Maevski blocking behind.
Yup, Rashford is on the left, Chong on the right and Greenwood in the middle.
Gomes is a lovely footballer. He has such a good touch and brain; I'd like to see more of him in the league, but if not this season it'll be next.
Lovely turn on the edge from Gomes, and he feeds Rojo who snaps a lovely flat, low cross into the box, but sliding in, neither Chong nor Greenwood can get a touch.
And they've also made two changes: Simunovic and Murtazayev have gone off, with Logvinenko and Janka coming on.
Astana get us underway again.
United played some decent stuff in patches - Gomes and Greenwood both look sharp. But Fred 's rocket hit the bar with a rocket and Rashford hit the goalkeeper from under the bar.
Half-time: Manchester United 0-0 Astana
United win a another corner and again Gomes' delivery is good but Greenwood impedes Erik.
I wonder if United might stick Greenwood up front in the second half - he's wasting his time on right, doing nothing. They'd then have to move Chong onto the right and Rashford onto the left.
Rojo spanks a shit into Postnijov and the ricochet finds Rashford, whose flick is straight at Erik.
Thrat's more like it, Fred finding Greenwood who immediately opens his body and shoots from 20 yards. He doesn't get the draw he's after, but chose a better options than going wide for another cross to be tossed in.
Rashford clips a nice ball out to Dalot, who should cross first time, doesn't, and by the time he does Chong has no chance. United need to think about this, because they're not making the most of their decent situations.
United knock it about looking for an opening.
Astana have grown in confidence a little and win a corner which Sigurjonsson takes. It's not a bad one either, but no one attacks it and United clear.
United need to get their one-touch stuff going again. Astana are defending their box, and crosses into it are exactly what they want.
United shove everyone forwards for a corner and when Matic's header goes to Simunovic, one ball into the space and Murtazaev and Rotariu are both in. But he takes too long and when the ball finally arrives, Murtazaev's shot is tame and he's offside anyway.
United could do with getting Greenwood on the ball a bit more. He's looked good when he's had it, but that's not been very often.
Nice from Gomes again, lofting a ball out to Dalot, who controls on the stretch, spins Zidane-style to lose his man, and stands up a cross that Chong can't muscle onto.
Nemanja Matic is so slow. He runs at the Astana defence and is promptly dumped on his buttocks.
I'm not sure we're going to learn much about Tuanzebe tonight, but he makes a nice interception and threads a decent pass out to Dalot.
Lovely from Gomes, threading a no-look pass between defenders for Dalot, racing to the line; Astana see his cross away.
Chong wins a corner down the left and Gomes' delivery is good again; Tuanzebe hurls himself at it, but is penalised for a foul.
A lull, as United prompt.
Gomes shoves out to Ching, who tries to get around the back but runs out of pitch as we see Patrice Evra making a strong point to Paul Pogba in the stand.
Astana have barely had a kick here.
Rojo tries another cross, shanks it up in the air ... and it's put Rashford through! He waits for it to drop and again makes decent connection with the inside of his foot, but again it's straight at Erik. Surely United are going to score shortly.
Elsewhere in the group, AZ are 1-0 up away to Partizan.
Another swift break from United and Rojo curves in a brilliant bal. Rashford makes a decent connection on the volley too, but sends his shot wide before the flag goes up.
...and it's Gomes, who curls into the wall. United, though, don't let it lie, and win another corner ... which comes to nothing.
Gomes wins a free-kick just outside the D, left of centre, and fancies a hit himself. But so do Fred and Rashford...
Jones dives in on Murtazayev with no hope of winning the ball and his man galumphs towards the box. But Jones does well to get back and avert his own danger.
Lovely from united again, Dalot into Rashford who, on the edge of the box, right-hand side, flicks beautifully into Greenwood's path. he takes a touch to get it out of his feet, then pings one towards the far post that doesn't quite curl when it needs to. Lovely connection, though.
Robbie Savage's lad is at United, so he's seen a lot of Greenwood, and is now raving about how good he is and how age-group football is too easy for him. That's a problem these days - for years, reserve-team football was played by those not starting in the first XI and those coming back from injury, but now it's kids.
Is that a save or a miss! Gomes sticks a decent corner into the middle and Tuanzebe reaches for it, diverting the ball into Rashford's path! Ye've gottae score! But he drives low into Erik's legs! In fairness, it came at him fast, but he shouldn't be missing from there, there being four yards out.
Rojo gets on the ball deep inside the Astana half and wins a corner when his cross is blocked behind.
Rojo carves an excellent long ball in behind for Rashford, who's pulled his man away then spun in behind, but he can't quite bring it down.
Tuanzebe, looking for Dalot high up the pitch, gives it away to Shomko who bursts forward, but Sigurjohnsson runs offside.
Steve Bower, commentating, insists on calling Rojo "Roehoe."
Apologies, my system crashed, but Chong just tested Erik. This has been an impressive start from United.
Lovely from United, a one-touch one-two across the face of the box between Gomes and Rashford allows the latter to tee up Fred, who unleashes a rasper from 25 yards that clatters the top of the bar! That was very good.
Nice from Dalot, into Greenwood who takes it well then wins a throw. He does not want for confidence.
A first-time pass from Rojo finds Gomes and his touch is nice, but he's quickly crowded out.
Off we go!
Old Trafford isn't full by any means, but there's a pretty decent crowd in, and a decent racket emanating from the singing section.
Here they come!
The players are tunnelled.
Michael Owen is coming into the BT studio. Oh goodo! Chauette!
Arsenal have won 3-0. Eintracht had a lot of chances, but it's not really about that - they can't defend and everyone knows it, they'll get out of this group and everyone knows it. But what was good about this was how well their young attackers did. If one of them makes it, that's a result, but Saka, Smith-Rowe and Willock all have potential.
Romero is a pretty decent keeper - pretty much as good a number two as it's possible to have. As for Dalot, I really like him - he's quick, skillful and excellent going forward, and isn't scared at all. As far as playing right-back goes, he's got a problem now that Aaron Wan-Bissaka has arrived, but he's an option further forward and can also play on the left.
I should also note that Joe Willock scored Arsenal's first goal - United aren't the only club with promising youngsters.
Well! Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has made it 3-0 to Arsenal, and this is exactly what they need after Sunday's capitulation at Watford.
Elsewhere: Arsenal are 1-0 up away to Eintracht Frankfurt. No they're not! Bukayo Saka, who's had a fine game, has just curled in a lovely finish from just outside the D! You can follow the rest here.
Astana are here, incidentally, because they were eliminated in the first Champions League qualifying round by Cluj - who then went on to eject Celtic and are no mugs. They won 1-0 at home, but lost 3-1 away. Cluj, meanwhile, are 2-1 up on Lazio with 11 minutes remaining of their game.
As for Astana, they'll be fancying their chances here. Thye'd probably fancy them if United were at full-strength, and you can be sure they're not here to be anyone's patsy. They're currently third in their league, five points off Tobol, the leaders, but with two games in hand.
United's bench is also worth a looksee, because on it is James Garner. It seems inconceivable that he, Greenwood, Chong and Gomes will all make it at the club, but he too has a chance. He's a midfielder in the Michael Carrick mould - a good passer and clever on the ball - but lacks a little bit physicality, as Arsene Wenger might say. And even he's not it - Brandon Williams and Ethan Laird, both full-backs, and Dylan Levitt, a midfielder, are also thought to be in with a shot. We shall see.
That United team, then. Axel Tuanzebe makes his first start at centre-back, and he has excellent raw materials: good on the ball, good in the air, strong, fast and a leader. United rate him, which is why he's third-choice, and I also think he could be an option in defensive midfield. In front of him, Fred has a chance to build on a decent substitute appearance against Leicester - he passed well through the lines, which is what he was bought to do, without getting caught in possession which was what happened way too much last season. But it's in attack where things really get exciting. Angel Gomes, the number 10, is a natural footballer, and plays a role where United have a vacancy. He's slight, which is maybe why we've not seen much of him before now, but he has skill, pace and intelligence. If he does the business in this competition, it'll be difficult to leave hi out of the first XI. Meanwhile, Mason Greenwood is probably ready now, and I actually thought we'd have seen more of him in the league than we have. I'd like to see him up front, but if he can play well on the right, an area where United are lacking, he can also force himself into the league team. As for Tahith Chong, he was pretty good on Saturday, but because he's best playing off the left, will find it harder to establish himself, as Dan James looks to be making that spot his own. Still, though, there's lots to look forward to here.
And Astana: Eric; Rukavina, tomasevic, Postnikov, Shomko, Tomasov, Maevski, Simunovic, Sigurjonsson, Murtazayev, Rotariu. Subs: Mokin, Muzhikov, Beysebekov, Mubele, Logvinenko, Petsukh, Janga.
The Europa League group stages get a bad press, and rightly so - they're long, of, shall we say variable quality, and missing the Champions League rejects who turn up in the new year. But I'm really looking forward to this one, and the reason is the team that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has picked. Let's have a look...
Evening all, and welcome to Manchester United v Astana!