Partizan Belgrade 0-1 Manchester United: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side take significant step towards knockout stages
Match report as Man United move three points clear of Partizan at the top of Group L
By Oliver Yew and Max Mathews
Last Updated: 25/10/19 6:08am
Manchester United took a significant step towards the Europa League knockout stages as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer picked up his first away win as the club's permanent manager with a 1-0 victory at Partizan Belgrade.
- Europa League scores and results | Europa League tables
- How the teams lined up
- Solskjaer: Williams will be a top player
Scott McTominay headed wide and Jesse Lingard hit the post for United, who broke the deadlock three minutes before half-time through Anthony Martial's penalty after Brandon Williams was brought down in the penalty area by Nemanja Miletic.
Partizan posed more of a threat to United in the second half as they went in search of an equaliser but referee Javier Estrada waved away two penalty appeals, while Umar Sadiq, who hit the post in the first half, shot wide of the target.
Late on, United needed Sergio Romero to keep out former Arsenal forward Takuma Asano's header, while Bibras Natkho's shot flashed inches over the crossbar as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side held on to take what could prove to be a crucial three points.
Victory sees United move three points clear of Partizan at the top of Group L ahead of the return meeting between the two sides at Old Trafford on November 7, where a win would see Solskjaer's side qualify for the knockout stages.
How United secured Solskjaer's first away win as permanent boss
After an even opening at the FK Partizan Stadium, United created the first real opportunity of the game when Juan Mata's free-kick picked out McTominay at the far post in the 15th minute. But with the goal at his mercy, the Scottish midfielder headed into the side netting.
Partizan Belgrade: Stojkovic (7), Pavlovic (7), Natcho (6), Tosic (6), Sadiq (8), Asano (7), Zdjelar (6), Soumah (7), Ostojic (6), Urosevic (6), Miletic (5).
Subs: Stevanovic (6), Pavlovic (n/a), Ivanovic (n/a).
Away Team: Romero (7), Jones (6), Maguire (7), Rojo (7), Wan-Bissaka (8), McTominay (8), Garner (7), Williams (8), Mata (7), Lingard (7), Martial (7).
Subs: Rashford (6), James (6), Pereira (n/a).
Man of the match: Brandon Williams
United had another glorious opportunity in the 37th minute when Aaron Wan-Bissaka's tackle and pass set up Lingard, whose shot beat Vladimir Stojkovic but the ball rebounded off the upright and away to safety.
It was Partizan's turn to rattle the woodwork three minutes later as Sadiq's powerful right-footed shot evaded the dive of Romero and crashed back off the post before Asano steered another effort wide for the hosts.
However, with the pressure starting to build on visitors, Williams was brought down in the penalty area by Miletic and Martial stepped up to send the goalkeeper the wrong way and up to mark his return from injury with a goal.
Partizan started the second half with intent and they wanted a penalty of their own when Seydouba Soumah went down following a tangle of legs with Phil Jones. However, on this occasion the Spanish referee waved away the appeals, much to the disappointment of the home crowd.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer handed 18-year-old midfielder James Garner his first start, while fellow youth product Brandon Williams made his second senior start. Harry Maguire captained the side in what was a three-man defence with Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Williams at wing-back. Elsewhere, David de Gea was ruled out with Sergio Romero deputising. Phil Jones also returned, while Anthony Martial came back in after injury.
There were further appeals from the hosts when the ball appeared hit Williams' arm in the penalty area in the 67th minute following Miletic's header, but again the referee let play continue.
Partizan continued to push for an equaliser and United needed Romero to preserve their lead as the Argentine kept out Asano's header before Natkho curled the ball just beyond the top corner as United held on.
Man of the Match - Brandon Williams
Williams was a ball of energy throughout, charging up and down the left flank. The 19-year-old - only making his second senior start - won the penalty for the only goal of the game with a brave, surging run, making him the youngest United player to win a penalty since Adnan Januzaj (at 18 years and 266 days) against Norwich in the League Cup in October 2013. He displayed the intent and maturity needed to step up to first-team level. (Max Mathews)
Pundit - Kris Boyd
"It's a good result for United, they haven't conceded a goal yet in the group either," said the former Rangers and Scotland striker.
"But this is the Europa League, it's Manchester United. This competition gives them the best chance to get into the Champions League next season but domestically it's got to be a lot, lot better.
"The worrying thing for me is they've had to spend a fortune to bring those young guys like Wan-Bissaka and Daniel James in."
- Manchester United have won away from home for the first time since March (3-1 vs PSG in the Champions League), ending their 11-game winless run on the road in all competitions.
- United remain unbeaten in their last 14 matches in the Europa League, since defeat away to Fenerbahce in November 2016 (W10 D4 since), keeping 10 clean sheets in this run.
- Since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's first game in charge of Manchester United in December 2018, the team have taken (14) and scored (11) more penalties in all competitions than any other Premier League side.
- Anthony Martial's winner ended Manchester United's run of 392 minutes without a goal away from home in all competitions, their first since August (vs Southampton). Martial has been directly involved in four goals in his last five games for Manchester United in all competitions (3 goals and 1 assist), as many as in his previous 17.
Manchester United travel to Norwich in the Premier League on Sunday; Kick-off 4.30pm, before travelling to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea in the Carabao Cup fourth round, live from 7pm on Sky Sports Main Event; Kick-off 8pm.
Partizan and United resume their Europa League campaigns against each other on November 7 at Old Trafford; Kick-off at 8pm.