Horror miss, own goal, but lots to like - How Man Utd's teenagers got on against Astana

By Sports Desk November 28, 2019

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer selected seven teenagers and three full debutants in his Manchester United starting XI for Thursday's 2-1 Europa League defeat to Astana in Nur-Sultan.

Jesse Lingard was named captain and gave United a 10th-minute lead, but that impressive opening to the contest crumbled after half-time.

Dmitry Shomko equalised in the 55th minute before the unfortunate Di'Shon Bernard put through his own goal.

Teenage prospects D'Mani Bughail-Mellor, Largie Ramazani and Ethan Galbraith also came off the bench for United, who have already qualified for the knockout stages. Here, we run the rule over the seven starters under 20.

Di'Shon Bernard

Formerly of Chelsea's youth set-up, Bernard's senior debut will unfortunately be remembered for the decisive moment where he diverted Antonio Rukavina's cross beyond veteran goalkeeper Lee Grant.

He had acquitted himself well enough until that point, appearing assured under Astana's set-piece assault early in the second half. No United player made more than Bernard's five clearances and two interceptions.

Ethan Laird

A mixed outing for the right-back, who added penetration to the United attack but struggled at times defensively – most notably when Shomko's equaliser came down his channel.

Tahith Chong

Chong's wretched miss with the goal at his mercy in the 54th minute was fairly inexplicable. That chip over from six yards after Angel Gomes and Luke Shaw opened up Astana was compounded because the hosts equalised within a minute.

However, it should not be forgotten that Chong's all-action opening to the contest, where he broke up play and drove United forward, was a key ingredient in them enjoying the better of the first half.

Angel Gomes

Bright, inventive and always United's most likely creative spark. Gomes jinked in from the left with intent, having an early shot blocked and showing an eye for effective link-up play with Mason Greenwood.

Rukavina streaking clear down the United left to craft the winning goal did not speak well of Gomes' defensive awareness, but his three key passes were more than any United attacker and he almost stole a point with a sumptuous 78th-minute free-kick.

James Garner

Showed a shrewd eye for a pass during the initial exchanges, breaking lines with a creativity Solskjaer's more experienced pros too frequently lack. Garner's influence waned during the second half but he completed 82 of 84 passes before making way for Ramazani in the 84th minute.

Dylan Levitt

The Wales Under-21 international arguable edged out Gomes as the most impressive United youngster on show. Silky and effortless in possession at times, Levitt oozed class and racked up 104 passes. He found a team-mate with 94.8 per cent of those.

Mason Greenwood

A comedown from the high of his maiden Premier League goal during the undulating 3-3 draw at Sheffield United last weekend. Greenwood, comfortable with either foot, presents an obvious threat to any defence, but his timing was slightly off here, as evidenced by him being flagged offside on three occasions.

Related items

  • Ibrahimovic apologised for costly derby dismissal - Pioli Ibrahimovic apologised for costly derby dismissal - Pioli

    Zlatan Ibrahimovic apologised for the red card that cost Milan dearly in their Coppa Italia exit to rivals Inter, coach Stefano Pioli has revealed.

    Ibrahimovic, who had scored his 499th club career goal to give Milan the lead, was sent off for a second bookable offence as he felled Aleksandar Kolarov just before the hour-mark.

    Romelu Lukaku equalised from the penalty spot soon after and Christian Eriksen's stoppage-time free-kick settled a controversial Derby della Madonnina encounter.

    Ibrahimovic had earned his first yellow card in a confrontation with former Manchester United team-mate Lukaku.

    The two forwards went head-to-head in a heated exchange that saw Ibrahimovic aim offensive language in the direction of his opponent.

    It was a major misstep and Milan paid the price for Ibrahimovic's ill-discipline, but the 39-year-old was apologetic, according to his coach.

    "Ibrahimovic apologised. He knows he created a problem for the team," Pioli said. "He apologised because he is a great man and champion.

    "It's clear that the game was more difficult one man down in a game so balanced. It has been crucial. It wasn't supposed to happen but it happened unfortunately.

    "We felt the fatigue in the last 30 minutes and we didn't achieve a positive result.

    "We wanted it and we prepared for it. Now we go back to the league and to Bologna."

    Milan remain top of Serie A, two points ahead of second-placed Inter, as they aim to end a 10-year wait for the Scudetto.

  • Arteta 'very positive' about finalising Odegaard deal Arteta 'very positive' about finalising Odegaard deal

    Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta confirmed the club are close to signing Real Madrid attacking midfielder Martin Odegaard on loan as he reflected on his side's 3-1 victory over Southampton on Tuesday.

    Goals from Nicolas Pepe, Bukayo Saka and Alexandre Lacazette helped the Gunners come from behind and claim all three points at St Mary's, where they lost 1-0 in the FA Cup just three days earlier.

    The result moved Arsenal above Southampton and into eighth place in the Premier League table, and Arteta indicated his side's positive start to 2021 could soon be boosted further by Odegaard's arrival.

    "I think we are pretty close but it's not finalised as I understand it," Arteta told reporters, when asked about the 22-year-old Norwegian playmaker.

    "I haven't spoken to [Arsenal technical director Edu] or the club in the last few hours but we're very positive that we'll finalise the deal."

    After a dismal run of one victory in 10 league matches between October and December, Arsenal are unbeaten in their past five Premier League games and have won four of them.

    Arteta indicated that the upturn in form has restored belief to his squad, saying: "Football games are always judged by the result and that affects the confidence.

    "The moment that we started to win and confidence went up and we started to grow and understand each other better, we got some players back and the spirit started to lift a little bit, things were much better to be fair."

    Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl lambasted his side's defending after they succumbed to a third defeat in six league games.

    Hasenhuttl told BT Sport: "It's always frustrating when you concede goals, but when it is that easy I think it hurts even more.

    "The first was a mistake in the build-up, but then still we had the chance to defend it and we didn't do it, and then the second one was similar.

    "It's not the way we can defend, we can do it much better and we know this. After being down one at half-time it's difficult to come back. We had chances to do it, but also the final quality was not good enough.

    "We know we are a good side when we play a perfect game, but today we were far off this."

  • Guardiola sympathises with West Brom after City's latest offside controversy Guardiola sympathises with West Brom after City's latest offside controversy

    Pep Guardiola could understand West Brom's frustration after Manchester City benefited from a marginal offside call in their 5-0 win at The Hawthorns on Tuesday.

    Ilkay Gundogan scored twice in a rampant City display, but it was the second goal from Joao Cancelo that really took the match away from relegation-battling West Brom.

    Home defenders appeared to stop playing when official Sian Massey-Ellis prematurely raised her flag while City were still on the attack, believing Bernardo Silva was offside.

    Guardiola's side continued and scored in stunning fashion through Cancelo, his first Premier League strike awarded following a VAR review which showed Silva just onside.

    It was the second consecutive league game in which City had benefited from such controversy, with Silva's opener against Aston Villa given despite Rodri retreating from an offside position to tackle Tyrone Mings.

    Reports this week suggested the rule that allowed that contentious goal to stand would be tweaked, but the Baggies – despite Massey-Ellis' error – could only blame themselves for the slack defending that allowed Cancelo to capitalise.

    Guardiola offered his sympathy after the match but explained City always play to the whistle, which did not sound until the ball hit the net.

    "I can understand [West Brom being unhappy]," the City manager told BT Sport. "Now with VAR, in these situations, you have to follow the actions until the end.

    "You never know what is going to happen. The goal is allowed, disallowed? Nobody knows, so you have to continue.

    "Always we speak with the players: until the end of the action, continue because we don't know what happens."

    West Brom were outclassed regardless of that call and have now conceded 29 home league goals this season, the most in Europe's top five leagues.

    Of those, 22 have come in their past five matches at The Hawthorns, with Aston Villa in December 1935 the last team to ship as many over a five-game home stretch in England's top flight.

    This was despite City playing without key men Kevin De Bruyne – out for up to six weeks – and Sergio Aguero, who is recovering from coronavirus.

    After Gundogan's brace and Cancelo's controversial strike secured a three-goal lead inside half an hour, Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling added to City's advantage either side of half-time.

    Gundogan has scored seven league goals since December 15, making this the best scoring season of his career, but Guardiola believes any one of his players can profit when City are in this form.

    "If you play good and everybody's involved in attack and defence and everybody can arrive and everybody can be in the position, everybody is able to score," he said.

    City have now won both of their league games without De Bruyne this season, scoring six and conceding none.

    Gundogan added: "We all try our best – it doesn't matter who's playing.

    "Obviously we had a few players over the last week in different conditions, struggling from COVID or struggling with injuries. It's like the players get more and more ready to play.

    "Obviously Kevin is a big miss for us for the next few games, but we have players who will get more game time over the next couple of games.

    "We need them all. We need everyone to be involved, because everyone gives us a different quality, a different boost. We need to keep going."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.