Some Of Manchester United’s Youngsters Who Played In The 2-1 Defeat At Astana Are Knocking On The Door Of The First Team According To Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.


Some Of Manchester United’s Youngsters Who Played In The 2-1 Defeat At Astana Are Knocking On The Door Of The First Team According To Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The Norwegian spared his senior players the 6,000-mile round-trip to Kazakhstan, took a squad packed with academy graduates and chose an XI with an average age of 22 years and 26 days – the youngest fielded in European competition.

They took the lead through Jesse Lingard’s deflected strike in the 10th minute before Astana overturned the deficit in seven second-half minutes.

Solskjaer, whose side had already qualified for the last 32, told MUTV: “I think some of these might benefit from going out on loan. Of course, they need men’s football and it was a first taste of it for some of them. Some of them are also knocking on the door for us.”

The United boss praised right-back Ethan Laird, midfielder Dylan Levitt and centre-back Di’Shon Bernard, who made their full debuts, although it was the latter’s own goal that gave Astana the lead.

He added: “You can see the way we dominated midfield, with Jimmy Garner and Dylan playing together. Di’Shon was composed, Ethan was marauding down the right-hand side, particularly in the first half. Some of these have done themselves a good favour.”

Lingard, the eldest of the outfield players at 26 and captain for the night, fired United ahead and ended a goal drought dating back to January.

Tahith Chong should have made it 2-0 after the break, but astonishingly scooped over from six yards with an empty net in front of him. Seconds later United conceded their first goal of the group stage when Dmitriy Shomko’s deflected drive beat the reach of Lee Grant.

The six-time Kazakh champions delivered another blow shortly afterwards when Antonio Rukavina’s cross went in off the body of Bernard.

United responded positively with Eric producing two fantastic saves to deny Angel Gomes and Mason Greenwood, but they failed to prevent the Kazakh champions from recording their first group win of the season.

The Premier League side host Dutch club AZ Alkmaar in their final match on 12 December.

Chong missed chance pivotal

The match was played on a 4G pitch and under the roof of the Astana Arena, to protect the players from temperatures of -15 in the Kazakh capital.

United lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation against the side at the bottom of Group L but one which earlier in the month secured their sixth successive Kazakh title.

Perhaps those factors influenced Astana’s lackadaisical first-half display as United’s kids enjoyed an easy ride.

Lingard was the best attacker on the pitch during that period, and aside from his goal he hit a 20-yard shot that flew a couple of yards wide followed by another that looped narrowly over Eric’s bar.

Astana improved markedly after the break as they began to exert more pressure, but Chong will rue not subduing them once more with one of the misses of the competition. That seemed to spark the Kazakh side into life and they seized the initiative with two quick goals.

Ironically, United enjoyed their best attacking spell of the match after going behind, with Gomes’ stunning free-kick clawed away by Eric, who then stuck out an arm to block Greenwood’s effort.

Solskjaer said: “The group have travelled together and played together – it’s a very, very tight-knit group. It’s been excellent – the training yesterday, the lead-up to the game, the travel and everything.

“I’m just sorry they couldn’t go away from here with the win, because I thought they deserved to win the game.”

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Astana end run of losses – stats

  • United have lost a European match in which they scored the first goal for the first time in 25 such games (W20 D4) since losing 1-2 at FC Midtjylland in the Europa League last 32 in February 2016.
  • This result ended a run of 15 Europa League games without defeat for United (W10 D5), and was their first in the competition since going down 1-2 at Fenerbahce in the 2016-17 group stage.
  • Astana ended a run of six consecutive defeats in the Europa League, scoring more goals tonight (two) than they did in each of those six previous matches in the competition combined (one).
  • Shomko’s goal for Astana was the first United conceded in the Europa League in exactly eight-and-a-half hours of play since Facundo Roncaglia’s strike against them for Celta Vigo in the 2017 semi-final.
  • United have scored three own goals in their last 10 matches across all European competitions, this after having not scored one in 61 such games beforehand.
Home TeamFC AstanaAway TeamMan Utd
Shots on Target

First English side to face Kazakh opposition

  • Manchester United’s 1-0 home win over Astana in September was the first meeting between English and Kazakh sides in European competition.
  • United are yet to concede a goal in the Europa League this season – no side has ever kept a clean sheet in each of their opening five group games.
  • Astana have lost their past six Europa League games by an aggregate score of 1-17. Only Luxembourg’s Dudelange (15) have conceded more goals in this season’s competition than Astana (14).
  • United have managed just one shot on target across their two away games in the Europa League this season – Anthony Martial’s penalty in the 1-0 win at Partizan Belgrade.
  • Mason Greenwood has been involved in three of Man Utd five goals in the Europa League this season (two goals, one assist).

Man Utd squad and ages

Goalkeepers: Lee Grant (36), Matej Kovar (19).

Defenders: Max Taylor (19), Luke Shaw (24), Axel Tuanzebe (22), Teden Mengi (17), Di’Shon Bernard (19), Ethan Laird (18).

Midfielder: Dylan Levitt (19), Ethan Galbraith (18), Arnau Puigmal (18), James Garner (18), Jesse Lingard (26), Tahith Chong (19), Angel Gomes (19).

Forwards: Largie Ramazani (19), D’Mani Bughail-Mellor (19), Mason Greenwood (18).

Some Of Manchester United’s Youngsters Who Played In The 2-1 Defeat At Astana Are Knocking On The Door Of The First Team According To Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.


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