Manchester United 3-0 Partizan Belgrade: United qualify for Europa League knockout phase
Goals from Mason Greenwood, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford seal United's passage with two games to spare
Last Updated: 08/11/19 9:31am
Manchester United cruised into the Europa League knockout stages with two games to spare after a routine 3-0 victory over Partizan Belgrade at Old Trafford.
Mason Greenwood's well-taken opener and a brilliant solo effort from Anthony Martial put United in control at the break, after they scored two first-half goals at home for the first time this season.
Marcus Rashford continued his scoring streak when he rifled home his fifth goal in six appearances within four minutes of the restart.
And, barring the loss of Scott McTominay to injury late on, it was comfortable from there on for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side as they secured their fourth consecutive clean sheet of the campaign to consolidate top spot in Group L and a place in the round-of-32.
Man Utd: Romero (6), Wan-Bissaka (7), Maguire (7), Rojo (7), Young (7), McTominay (7), Fred (6), Mata (6), Greenwood (8), Martial (8), Rashford (8).
Subs: Lingard (6), Pereira (6), Garner (6).
Partizan: Stojkovic (6), Miletic (5), Ostojic (5), Pavlovic (5), Urosevic (6), Natcho (5), Zdjelar (5), Scekic (5), Asano (6), Soumah (6), Sadiq (6).
Subs: Tosic (6), Stevanovic (5), Ivanovic (n/a).
Man of the Match: Mason Greenwood.
How United coasted to qualification
Partizan fought fire with fire in a frenetic start at Old Trafford that saw Martial and Umar Sadiq both have efforts ruled out for offside in the opening five minutes, but that was as close as the visitors would get as their strategy backfired and United strode towards the next round.
Rashford wasted two chances to open the scoring inside the opening quarter of an hour, blazing wide and over the target, but made amends on 22 minutes when his through ball reached Greenwood in the area, and the 18-year-old brilliantly switched onto his left foot before firing past the wrong-footed Vladimir Stojkovic in the Partizan goal.
And, after that classy finish, Greenwood had a hand in United's second as he charged down a clearance and diverted the ball into the path of Martial, who sensationally slalomed his way past three defenders before finishing off a fine solo effort with a toe-poke into the corner.
United entered the break in front and in control and it took just four minutes for them to assert their authority again as Ashley Young cushioned a long diagonal into the path of Rashford, who added a third with a rasping left-footed drive at the near post.
The Partizan goal was at the mercy of Solskjaer's side, as Young and Fred went close with free-kicks, and United would have added to their tally had they maintained their level of intensity to the finish.
But with qualification secured, Solskjaer took the opportunity to hand James Garner his first home senior appearance as United withstood the loss of McTominay to close out a morale-boosting night under the lights at Old Trafford.
What the managers said…
Man Utd boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: "I'm very pleased with all of those finishes, all three goals were high class. Of course, we should have had a few more, but the first one settled us down.
"Mason showed great composure; with the goalkeeper going down, he changed his mind and I was very happy with that. Anthony's was probably the skill of the night and then I was very pleased Marcus scored with his left foot. He'll need more goals on his left because he is in that position often and he can go both ways.
"Marcus got in some great positions, made some great runs onto some great passes, the goalkeeper made some saves and the other times he didn't hit the target, but the goal he scored will give him loads of confidence."
Analysis: Mission accomplished
Sky Sports News reporter James Cooper:
'Objective achieved for Solskjaer, three goals enough to seal knock-out football in the Europa League but Partizan Belgrade offered precious little resistance. In fact their fans were more impressive than the players they roared on in temperatures that had the travellers from Belgrade wrapping up.
'For Solskjaer, goals for his starting front three will be a welcome boost. United sat back after Rashford's thunderous second-half strike but with so many injuries, the hope is that McTominay limped off with a sore one rather than a more serious complaint.
'United are the only side not to have conceded so far in this season's Europa League and Solskjaer has the opportunity to experiment and rest in the remaining two group games.
'Old Trafford may have been almost empty by the time the final whistle went but this was a night when the ship was steadied again. Brighton's visit on Sunday, though, promises to present far more treacherous waters for Manchester United to navigate.'
Stats: Reds march on
- Manchester United haven't 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.
- Manchester United 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 Manchester United's sixth consecutive clean sheet in the group stages of the Europa League, having last conceded against Fenerbahçe back in November 2016.
United host Brighton in the Premier League on Sunday at 2pm. Matchday 5 of the Europa League sees United travel to Astana and AZ Alkmaar host Partizan on November 28.