The Warm-Up: Where have this United been all season?
Manchester United thrilled in a win over Partizan, while it was a memorable night for the Scottish clubs in the Europa League too.
FRIDAY’S BIG HEADLINES
Man Utd back in business
When is a 3-0 victory technically a moral defeat? Maybe when it only serves to remind you how disappointing you have been in the rest of your matches this season.
Gasp! As teen sensation Mason Greenwood, scorer of the opening goal after 21 minutes, delights the crowd, with a wonderful piece of skill!
Swoon! As Anthony Martial scores a beauty, showing off footwork that would put Kevin Clifton to shame.
Explode in fury! As you realise BT haven’t tweeted Marcus Rashford’s explosive left-footed finish into the top corner for the third but trust us it was really good.
In short: Manchester United had a great night where they looked full of attacking intent and opened their opponents up in devastating fashion. It was, as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said “a little bit of a template on how we want to play”.
With United having won only three of their 11 Premier League games this season, scoring only 13 goals, it does beg the question as to where this United have been all season. The case of Martial is particularly acute: a player capable of such blinding brilliance but whose mark on the club has been rather unconvincing. And that’s not just under Solskjaer – Jose Mourinho nearly ran him out of the club.
Progress is progress, but as Solskjaer himself admitted, “it’s the opposition that allow you to play that way as well. No disrespect to Partizan but they gave us spaces.
" Of course, when we scored the first goal, they went forward, but that was pleasing for me that we went forward and needed the second and the third. Too many times we’ve been 1-0 up and not got the second. But these boys are learning and tonight will give them loads of pointers on how to play and how we play when we’re playing well, even though the opposition isn’t the same as in the Premier League. It was still good principles."
Let’s see how long it lasts for.
Scotland the brave
Olivier Ntcham celebrates after scoring goal 1-2 during the Europe League football match SS Lazio vs Celtic FC at the Olympic Stadium in RomeGetty Images
It’s been a tricky few years for Scotland. First it failed to extricate itself from the burning dumpster fire of idiocy that currently is the United Kingdom, then the sugar tax ruined the flavour of its greatest natural resource, Irn Bru. But, based solely on two isolated results in the Europa League last night, The Warm-Up is ready to declare that the good times are back, baby.
Cue pandemonium - in the commentary box as well as the stands.
No less impressive was a 2-0 win for Rangers at home to Porto, putting Steven Gerrard’s side top of the group with Young Boys, three points ahead of Feyenoord and Porto. It was a game chiefly notable for an 11th goal of the season for Alfredo Morelos. That’s his 11th goal of the season IN EUROPE. Overall it’s 21 in all competitions.
“We will never run out of things to say about Alfredo because he keeps providing moments and performances like tonight,” said Gerrard. “You look across the landscape of European football and everyone has a talisman - some teams are lucky to have three or four. Alfredo is ours. Alfredo is a top footballer and I can’t describe how much I enjoy working with him. He is in a fantastic place and long may it continue.”
Jimenez grabs late win for Wolves
Raul Jimenez of Wolverhampton Wanderers celebrates scoring his goal with Patrick Cutrone during the UEFA Europa League group K match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Slovan BratislavaGetty Images
Completing a wonderful night for the British clubs, Wolves are now only a point away from qualification following an eventful 1-0 win over Slovan Bratislava last night. After Ruben Neves saw his penalty saved, Raul Jimenez finally broke the deadlock in the second of 12 added minutes. Jimenez had earlier knocked Kenan Bajric clean out with an attempted overhead kick, leading to some worrying scenes.
After a delightful bit of work from Adama Traore, who continues to mature into a player of some repute, Jimenez headed home and ‘did a Son’, clasping his hands together apologetically in a nod to his stricken opponent.
"It is difficult for all of us,” said Jimenez. “I don't know what to say. I hope he recovers well." Slovan coach Jan Kozak added: "He is conscious but he has concussion. At the moment it looks like a bad injury, quite serious. One of the home players kicked him in the head.”
IN OTHER NEWS
For some reason, Manchester City defender Nicolas Otamendi has turned his back into a promotional leaflet for Netflix. No, us neither.
HEROES AND ZEROES
Hero: Don Garber
The governing body’s pitiful response to racism across the game continues with the news that no action will be taken against Liverpool for the explicit and racist banner depicting Divock Origi that some idiot fans displayed during a recent 4-1 win over Genk in the Champions League. Apparently the match official failed to include the incident in his match report so no action can be taken.
Which really begs the question: when photos of a five-foot penis have gone around the world, why is a mention in an official’s report necessary to exact punishment for the depiction of a gross racial stereotype?
Someone is going to have to explain this to The Warm-Up:
The suggestion of intimacy yet hint of menace?
John Travolta’s HAIR??
Norwich take on Watford in the Premier League at 8pm for all the Against Modern Football hipsters out there, put your copy of Mundial down and stick on the FA Cup first-round match between cult non-league side Dulwich Hamlet and Carlisle United.
Join Marcus Foley on Monday for his blow-by-blow account of Claudio Bravo's magnificent display for Manchester City against Liverpool. Maybe.