Manchester United vs. Astana Match Analysis

Photo by Metro



Chapter one of Manchester United putting trust in the youth has officially began on Thursday, as the Reds collected all three points in their Europa League opener in a 1-0 win over Astana at Old Trafford.

Five players, 21 or younger, who have come up through the ranks at United lined up in the tunnel to start the game against the largely unknown Kazakh opposition — and for the most part, they came up with the goods.

Axel Tuanzebe started at centre back, while the front four consisted of Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood, Angel Gomes, and Tahith Chong. There have been cries for all of the above (other than regular starter Rashford) to be given more game time amidst United's shaky start to the season, and they have been heard. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been promising that once the European and domestic cups come into play, so will the young guns, and he delivered.

With that young, exciting side, United went into the game with a lot of hype built up among the faithful on social media and in the stands. And the first half was very promising.

United created chance after chance. In fact, it has been a while since I felt like they should have been up four or five at home by half time. Despite the evidently lower level of opposition, the game was fun to watch, and if not for the poor marksmanship in front of goal, there would have been a party at Old Trafford at the interval.

The first half was a very bright showing from Angel Gomes, who got his first competitive start for United. Gomes was heavily involved in the final third, showing off some clever touches and almost grabbing a couple of assists. It was certainly good to see the not so physically gifted player find his feet amongst grown men. Encouraging.

Unfortunately, after Fred, who finally got his return into the starting line up (and played very well) thrashed the crossbar, and Rashford wasted a couple of enticing half chances, the Reds were unable to break the deadlock after 45 minutes.

It was then more of the same after the break. United got back on the front foot and looked like they were really enjoying themselves. The football was very fluid going forward for most of the game, and the team just lacked that final touch in front goal. It was the story of the game really.

As the game was beginning to slow down, Astana finally found their way into United's half and managed to make the crowd in the stands a little uncomfortable at times with some of their approaches. Nothing really concrete, but they showed signs of life. Signs of life that were quickly flatlined by the boy wonder, Mason Greenwood.

The kid who everyone was tuning their TVs on for that Thursday night stepped forward and won the game for Manchester United with his first competitive senior goal for the club. And what a goal it was.

United were stuck in a bit of a sideways passing glitch before Fred lifted his head and found Greenwood on the right flank, entering the edge of the area. The 17-year-old took the pass well and squared up his defender, faking left, then switching the ball back onto his right foot before slotting it home in between the keeper's legs. A cool finish way beyond his years. And what a luxury it must be to be just as dangerous shooting from either foot.

The hosts managed to bring that narrow lead home, but it should have been way more comfortable than that. Don't get me wrong, the headline "Greenwood wins it for United" is fantastic, but the inability to finish in front of goal is becoming a bit worrying.

The popular complaint before this game was that United don't create enough chances. Well they created plenty against Astana, but this time struggled to convert them.

And with the lack of depth, particularly in the goal-scoring department, we just have to hope that Marcus Rashford eventually finds his shooting boots in open play, and the returning Martial will pick up where he left off before picking up his injury — as we cannot put the burden of leading Manchester United in goals on the shoulders of a soon to be 18-year-old.

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