Manchester United finally enjoyed away-day success as Anthony Martial's 43rd-minute penalty earned an unconvincing 1-0 win over Partizan Belgrade, lifting Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men to the top of Group L in the Europa League.

Prior to Thursday's contest in Serbia, United had gone 11 matches without an away win in all competitions - their worst such run in 40 years - since beating Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League back in March.

Yet the Red Devils' travelling support were finally given reason to celebrate again as a spot-kick from Martial - making his first start since August 24 following injury - was complemented by the club's third clean sheet in as many Europa League matches this term.

United's overall performance was far from impressive and a lack of creativity was again apparent as a side showing seven changes from Sunday's encouraging 1-1 draw with Liverpool failed to muster a single shot on target besides Martial's penalty.

However, the result will at least please Solskjaer as the 2016-17 Europa League winners are firmly on course to reach the knockout stages having claimed seven points from three games.

The only clear-cut chance of a turgid opening half-hour, in which United dominated possession, saw Scott McTominay wastefully head wide at the far post from Juan Mata's inviting 15th-minute free-kick.

A brief spell of Partizan pressure heralded a significant rise in entertainment value, with the fit-again Jesse Lingard and Umar Sadiq each striking the post in quick succession.

Martial then calmly sent Vladimir Stojkovic the wrong way from 12 yards, after Brandon Williams' surging run into the hosts' box had drawn a clear foul from Nemanja Miletic.

United were pegged back for much of the second half, though, and had to survive a succession of penalty appeals from Partizan, the most convincing arriving in the 67th minute when Miletic's back-post header appeared to strike the arm of Williams.

A furious Miletic was booked for his protests after the referee refused to point to the spot and the hosts' pressure continued to go unrewarded, with Sergio Romero saving sharply from Takuma Asano late on.

Manchester United should "break the bank" for Kylian Mbappe, according to Louis Saha, although the former Red Devils forward acknowledges Paris Saint-Germain's sensational youngster is likely already out of the club's reach.

United allowed both Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez to join Inter - on permanent and loan deals respectively - in the latest transfer window, leaving Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's only senior striking options.

Rashford has been in patchy form, scoring four goals from nine league appearances, while Martial has missed the majority of the campaign so far due to injury, with teenager Mason Greenwood called on at times to lead United's line.

Though Martial is now back to fitness, United's issues up front have been a source of debate, with the club's former captain Roy Keane suggesting Tottenham's Harry Kane should be a priority target.

Saha says PSG and France star Mbappe is a player United should be looking to purchase, but he knows they may have already missed their chance.

"If you ask me, I would break the bank for Mbappe, but now it's too late," Saha told Compare.Bet. 

"But, when you look at strikers, it's a dying breed. [Robert] Lewandowski is a rare example of someone who is left, and I don't see many players that can easily fit up front. 

"I had views on some strikers like [Atalanta's] Duvan Zapata who I think is a decent player, very strong.

"There is a need for somebody up front who is strong enough to hold the ball and to give time and space to the players like Paul Pogba and [Scott] McTominay to create something in midfield to put passes together."

Saha also believes the style of play employed by Solskjaer has often been "too nice" for United's own good.

"You're asking a lot from young players because passing the ball around and having nice touches, it just looks too nice and it doesn't work," Saha added.

"This football is really down to possession, but hard on young players especially when they don't have confidence.

"You need a couple of big strong characters to talk to people, to do the dirty jobs, winning duels, and to help the fans react. I think that's what we want to see.

"When we lose we have that challenge that nobody likes. Passing is nice but you don't hurt anybody."

Juventus are set to have money to splash at the end of the season.

Eight-time reigning Serie A champions Juve are repeating the rewards of their domestic dominance.

And it could see some of Europe's elite join Cristiano Ronaldo in Turin.

 

TOP STORY - JUVENTUS REACH FOR THE STARS

Juventus are eyeing a blockbuster signing, with Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Paul Pogba the targets, according to Gazzetta dello Sport.

Italian champions Juve are reportedly set to announce an increase of capital by €300million as they establish their position among Europe's elite clubs.

PSG's superstar pair Mbappe and Neymar fit the profile of a future eye-catching signing, as well as Manchester United's former Juve midfielder Pogba, Gazzetta says.

The report also mentions Borussia Dortmund sensation Jadon Sancho, Atletico Madrid's Joao Felix and Tottenham forward Son Heung-min.

 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester Evening News reports Manchester United are confident about signing James Maddison from Leicester City. After splashing out a world-record fee for a defender to lure Harry Maguire from Leicester, United are said to have their eyes on another Foxes star as they look to add quality in the attacking third.

Real Madrid are considering a move for AC Milan full-back David Calabria, according to Fichajes.net. The alternatives would be RB Leipzig's Lukas Klostermann and Youcef Atal from Nice as Madrid reportedly look to replace Alvaro Odriozola.

West Ham and Wolves are eyeing January moves for Milan star Suso, says The Sun. The former Liverpool attacker was wanted by Roma during the previous window.

- Soccer Link says Paris Saint-Germain are monitoring Chelsea defender Tariq Lamptey and plan to sign him at the end of the season. The 19-year-old's contract expires at the end of the campaign.

Arsenal will have to spend £30.1million (€35m) if they want to make Dani Ceballos' loan deal from Real Madrid permanent, according to El Desmarque.

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich rejected an offer from a Middle East-based consortium to buy the Premier League club, The Daily Telegraph reports.

- The Guardian says Manchester City are stepping up their pursuit to sign in-demand Napoli star Fabian Ruiz. Fabian is also being targeted by Barcelona and Madrid.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has hailed Manchester United's striking options following Roy Keane's suggestion the club should sign Harry Kane, while former team-mate Edwin van der Sar has distanced himself from the vacant director of football role.

Following United's 1-1 draw with Liverpool on Sunday, ex-captain Keane – working as a pundit for Sky Sports – stated United should purchase England forward Kane from Tottenham to solve their issues up front.

Marcus Rashford scored in the stalemate at Old Trafford, taking his tally of league goals for the season to four, but Solskjaer's options up front have been diminished by Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez leaving for Inter, while Anthony Martial is only just returning from injury.

Solskjaer insists he is satisfied with his current pool of strikers, although acknowledged having a player of Kane's quality would always be a bonus.

"Roy's quite straightforward, isn't he," Solskjaer told a news conference when asked about his former team-mate's comments ahead of United's Europa League meeting with Partizan Belgrade.

"For us it's [about] working hard. Getting Anthony back is going to be a massive boost for us and I'm sure, when he comes back, that'll help Marcus as well. 

"With the forwards we've got and the pace, I'm looking forward to the next few weeks.

"There aren't many [Robert] Lewandowskis and Harry Kanes - they're like [Alan] Shearer, [Ruud] Van Nistelrooy, fantastic players.

"Ours are different types of players but I like someone who can finish half a chance and Harry does that, but Harry's a Tottenham player."

With United's transfer dealings having come under scrutiny in previous seasons, the club are reportedly still in search of a director of football.

One name consistently linked with taking up the position has been former United goalkeeper Van der Sar, who has enjoyed success as Ajax's chief executive officer. 

However, Van der Sar says he is not considering leaving the Eredivisie champions at the moment, telling BT Sport: "I've said before, I want to make this a success at Ajax.

"As a player, you always needed to build up qualities and your strengths. Now I'm trying it out and experiencing a lot of different things here, I've still some unfinished business here.

"If we could have taken it one step further last year [getting to the Champions League final], it could have been a step already, but at the moment I'm concentrating on Ajax."

Harry Maguire is hopeful Manchester United will not have to experience a repeat of the "sickening" racist abuse that marred England's trip to Bulgaria when they visit Partizan Belgrade on Thursday.

United face Savo Milosevic's side in the Europa League after the Serbian outfit were forced to play their previous two UEFA home matches behind closed doors following "racist behaviour of supporters" when they hosted Yeni Malatyaspor in the third qualifying round.

The Group L game also follows Serbia's national team being hit with a two-game stadium ban – one suspended for 12 months – after a similar incident against Portugal in September.

Maguire played in England's 6-0 win over Bulgaria in Euro 2020 qualifying earlier this month, which was twice stopped during the first half after visiting players were subjected to racist chants.

Those stoppages formed part of UEFA's three-step protocol – whereby a match is first paused, then suspended for a period, before ultimately being abandoned on the third instance of racist abuse – but Maguire is confident the match in Belgrade will pass without any major incidents.

"We will trust UEFA to follow their protocol," he told a media conference. "Sofia was sickening and something I don't want to be part of again.

"We are confident tomorrow will be a positive atmosphere. If something does go off, we will follow the three-step protocol."

United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer echoed Maguire's sentiments and has faith that UEFA will implement their protocol should racist abuse be heard.

"In the aftermath of what happened in Bulgaria, we had a meeting with the boys and we have gone through the protocol," he said.

"I believe in the good of people and the atmosphere will be fantastic. We trust UEFA and hopefully it will be a celebration of good football."

Solskjaer also reiterated United's stance on clamping down on racist incidents involving their own supporters after one was alleged to have engaged in abuse during Sunday's 1-1 draw with Liverpool.

"I'm happy the club have identified whatever you want to call him and it's something we feel strongly about," he added. "We will stamp down as much as we can."

Paul Pogba will not be fit to face Norwich City on Sunday but David de Gea should be able to make the trip to Carrow Road, according to Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

United are in Serbia ahead of a Europa League clash with Partizan Belgrade, though neither Pogba nor De Gea are in the travelling party.

Pogba last featured at the end of September having sustained a foot injury, while De Gea has recently struggled with a groin strain.

De Gea was able to take his place in United's starting XI on Sunday in the 1-1 draw with Liverpool despite appearing to be a doubt after hurting himself on international duty.

Solskjaer is unwilling to risk the Spaniard in Belgrade, with youngster Matej Kovar joining Sergio Romero and Lee Grant as the three goalkeepers, while Pogba remains sidelined even for the weekend journey to Norfolk.

"De Gea will be ready for Sunday but we didn’t take a risk with him travelling here," Solskjaer told reporters on Wednesday.

"Paul? No," Solskjaer later added when asked if Pogba could feature against Norwich.

United head into Thursday's game at Partizan second to them in Group L by virtue of scoring fewer goals.

They have not won away from home in any competition since beating Paris Saint-Germain at the Parc des Princes in March.

Savo Milosevic has no doubts Partizan Belgrade's Europa League clash with Manchester United will be a "celebration of football" after a two-match stadium ban for racist behaviour.

A bumper crowd is expected for the Group L match against the Red Devils, with Partizan forced to play their previous two UEFA home matches behind closed doors following "racist behaviour of supporters" when they hosted Yeni Malatyaspor in the third qualifying round.

The fixture comes in the wake of Serbia's national team being hit with a two-game stadium ban, albeit one is suspended for 12 months, following a similar incident during a Euro 2020 qualifying defeat to Portugal in September.

United stars Marcus Rashford and Harry Maguire also played in England's 6-0 win at Bulgaria, which was marred by high-profile incidents of racism from home supporters in Sofia.

Partizan coach Milosevic, though, does not expect there to be any issues for Thursday's match.

Speaking at a media conference, he said: "First of all, I expect everything to be fair and in the spirit of the sport.

"We know of our supporters, we are aware of the importance of the game and we are also aware of the problems we have had in the past.

"But tomorrow [Thursday] will once again be a celebration of football, so I don't expect any problems in that regard.

"We all know how important the support from the home fans can be."

Milosevic played against the great United sides of the 1990s having represented Aston Villa between 1995 and 1998.

The Red Devils class of today is languishing in 14th after nine games in the Premier League this term, but Milosevic is backing United to challenge at the top again in the future.

"It's impossible for one club to be always on the top level," he added.

"In my epoch, United were one of the best teams in the world with Alex Ferguson. They practically won everything possible and it's difficult to stay on that level always.

"But Manchester United is definitely in the top three biggest clubs in the world, even today.

"They have some difficulties, but it is also normal to have these difficulties, especially after the epoch of one man [Ferguson] who was there for more than 30 years [26 years]. It's difficult to find someone similar.

"It's still one of the biggest teams in England, in Europe and they definitely possess quality and I am certain that in the future, all of Europe will see how good they are.

"They have some extraordinary young players and it's a question of time for them to become key players and to lead United forward."

Paul Pogba and David de Gea will not be involved for Manchester United against Partizan Belgrade in the Europa League, but Jesse Lingard is back in the fold.

Neither Pogba nor De Gea took part in the Red Devils' training session at Carrington on Wednesday and both were missing from the squad list travelling to Serbia.

Pogba has been absent since September 30 due to a toe injury but reports suggested he may have played a part in the fixture, while Spain goalkeeper De Gea featured in Sunday's 1-1 draw with Liverpool despite having sustained a groin injury on international duty.

Axel Tuanzebe, Luke Shaw and Nemanja Matic also miss the trip for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side, but there is better news over Lingard.

The England international injured his hamstring in United's previous Europa League outing, which ended in a goalless draw at AZ on October 3.

United are second in Group L with four points from two matches.

 

Squad in full: Sergio Romero, Lee Grant, Matej Kovar; Phil Jones, Ethan Laird, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Marcos Rojo, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Brandon Williams; Fred, James Garner, Daniel James, Jesse Lingard, Scott McTominay, Juan Mata, Andreas Pereira; Mason Greenwood, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford.

Paul Pogba and David de Gea missed training on Wednesday ahead of Manchester United's trip to Partizan Belgrade in the Europa League.

Pogba has not played since September 30 due to a toe injury but there had been suggestions he could be fit for the clash in Serbia.

De Gea starred in United's 1-1 Premier League draw with leaders Liverpool on Sunday but failed to appear for the open section of training at Carrington.

Luke Shaw, Nemanja Matic, Diogo Dalot and Axel Tuanzebe were also absent but there was some better news for boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with Jesse Lingard making an appearance following a spell on the sidelines due to a hamstring problem.

United lie second in Group L, level on points with Partizan, after a win over Astana and a draw with AZ Alkmaar.

Marcus Rashford was on target for Manchester United in last weekend's 1-1 draw with Liverpool, offering a timely reminder of his ability in front of goal.

The England international finished neatly after being picked out by a fine Daniel James cross to make it four Premier League goals for the campaign.

Three of those have come in United's meetings with 'big six' rivals - two against Chelsea on opening weekend and then his effort against Liverpool, either side of a blank in the stalemate with Arsenal.

For his career, 35.5 per cent of Rashford's Premier League goals have been scored against the established big boys - Manchester City, Liverpool, Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal - but why exactly does he perform so well in those fixtures, yet seemingly struggle more against the rest of the top flight?


MAKING HIS MARC IN THE BIG GAMES

First, let us break down the stats.

Rashford has scored 11 times in 32 appearances against big-six opposition, compared to 20 goals in 88 outings against the rest of the Premier League opponents he has faced.

Even more impressive is the 21-year-old's conversion rate - 23.4 per cent against the division's elite, yet it dips to 11 per cent against the others.

Make no mistake about it - Rashford appears to be a player who welcomes the spotlight.

LESS IS MORE!

Rashford introduced himself to the Premier League when facing one of United's main rivals back in February 2016, scoring twice against Arsenal on his debut in the competition.

United won that match 3-2 with just 39.2 per cent of possession, and that in many ways could be the key to unlocking exactly why the forward is so successful on the grandest of occasions.

Take a closer look at the possession percentage stats for each of the eight matches he has scored in against the big six and a clear theme begins to develop. The numbers since that Arsenal brace are as follows (all listed are in per cent): 45.5, 46.2, 35.4, 32.1, 38.8, 46.3, 32.0.

The Red Devils had less possession than their opponents in each of those games, most notably in the 1-1 draw with Liverpool (32 per cent) when the Red Devils were only denied victory by a late leveller from Adam Lallana.

Whether he starts out on the left, as was the case against Chelsea on the opening day when scoring twice, or through the middle, which we saw against Liverpool last time out, Rashford has demonstrated he does not need to see a lot of the ball to make an impact on proceedings, as if counter-attacking play suits him more due to the space available.

HOW DOES RASHFORD COMPARE TO THE REST?

Since that impressive introduction against Arsenal over three years ago, only five players have scored more goals against those seen as being the top six in England than Rashford. 

His total of 11 goals in 32 appearances places him level with Mohamed Salah, having played in 10 fewer such fixtures than the Ballon d'Or contender. Salah's Liverpool team-mates Roberto Firmino (12 goals in 33 appearances) and Sadio Mane (14 in 33) have managed more, along with Harry Kane (15 in 33). Sergio Aguero (18 in 29) sits second in the top 10, behind Leicester City frontman Jamie Vardy (22 in 39). 

Not until back-to-back matches against Tottenham and Manchester City in early December do United face another major rival in league action.

Fitness permitting, though, you can be sure that Rashford will be one of the first names on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's team sheet for those fixtures.

Thibaut Courtois made the move to Real Madrid in 2018, but he is already seemingly under pressure in Spain.

Life at the Santiago Bernabeu has not gone according to plan for the former Chelsea goalkeeper.

And Madrid already have their eyes on a potential replacement…

 

TOP STORY – MADRID EYE SIMON AS COURTOIS REPLACEMENT

Real Madrid have identified Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper Unai Simon as a potential replacement for Thibaut Courtois, according to El Desmarque.

Courtois swapped Chelsea for Madrid in 2018, yet the Belgium international has not convinced amid growing criticism in the Spanish capital.

Simon has reportedly attracted interest from Madrid, who would need to pay the 22-year-old's €50million release clause.

 

ROUND-UP

Borussia Dortmund fear losing Manchester United target Jadon Sancho, according to Sport1. Sancho was suspended for last week's Bundesliga win over Borussia Monchengladbach after returning late from international duty.

- Sport claims Barcelona are ready to offload midfielders Ivan Rakitic, Carles Alena and Riqui Puig in January. Rakitic has been heavily linked to Serie A side Inter, while Tottenham are rumoured to be interested in Alena.

Manchester United have been given a boost in their pursuit of Mario Mandzukic after the Juventus striker slashed his wage demands, according to The Sun. Mandzukic is out of favour in Turin and set to leave in the January transfer window.

- Sport Bild says Schalke goalkeeper Alexander Nubel has turned down offers from Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain, Atletico Madrid, RB Leipzig and Roma. The 23-year-old only wants to join Bayern Munich should he leave Schalke when his contract expires at the end of the season.

- The German publication also claims Ralf Rangnick is a candidate to replace Niko Kovac if Bayern Munich decide to part with their current head coach. Bild, however, also says Rangnick is a candidate at Manchester United.

- Calciomercato says AC Milan and Borussia Dortmund are interested in Bayern Munich centre-back Lars Lukas Mai. Dortmund is believed to be the teenager's favoured destination.

- Real Madrid have informed Brahim Diaz he can leave the LaLiga club, reports AS. It comes less than a year after his arrival from Manchester City.

Mohamed Salah could return for Liverpool against Genk on Wednesday after returning to first-team training.

The Egypt star has been sidelined with an ankle injury sustained during the 2-1 Premier League win over Leicester City and missed the 1-1 draw with Manchester United on Sunday.

Manager Jurgen Klopp said the forward could not have been risked for the game at Old Trafford as he had not yet resumed team training.

However, Salah was involved in the section of training open to the media at Melwood on Tuesday as Liverpool prepare for their trip to Belgium.

It means the 27-year-old is likely at least to be ready for next Sunday's Premier League clash with Tottenham at Anfield.

Liverpool are a point off the top in Group E after two matches, having lost 2-0 to Napoli before beating Salzburg 4-3 on matchday two.

Patrice Evra accused Arsenal of being weak-willed "babies" following their 1-0 loss to Sheffield United on Monday.

Lys Mousset's first-half goal punished Nicolas Pepe's earlier close-range miss and condemned the Gunners to a second defeat in nine Premier League games.

Unai Emery claimed his side did not deserve to lose but former Manchester United defender Evra disagreed and attacked the team's character.

In an appearance on Sky Sports, the retired left-back claimed the club's shortcomings were ingrained and became clear to Robin van Persie following his move from Arsenal to Old Trafford in 2012.

"I used to call them 'my babies' 10 years ago and they are still, when I look at them, my babies. That's the truth," Evra said.

"I'm not being disrespectful when I say that. It's just the feeling I get from this team. They look pretty, they look good, but they don't look like a winning team. They just play good football.

"I was so happy to play against Arsenal because I knew I was going to win.

"Even when Robin van Persie came, the first day I shook his hand and said 'welcome to a man's club'.

"At the beginning he was upset but after one month he said 'you're completely right, Patrice'. That's my feeling. [Matteo] Guendouzi is a player who was playing in the French second league - and he was even not playing regularly - and he's the best player in this team.

"I know some legends are fuming when they see [Granit] Xhaka is captain of Arsenal.

"I respect [Pierre-Emerick] Aubameyang, [Alexandre] Lacazette, but you see if those guys don't score, they're in trouble. Nothing has changed."

Arsenal lie fifth in the Premier League, two points adrift of the Champions League places.

Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher has apologised to Patrice Evra and admitted the club "got it massively wrong" when they wore t-shirts in support of Luis Suarez following a racism incident between the pair in 2011.

Suarez received an eight game ban after racially abusing the Frenchman in a match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield in 2011.

In the return match at Old Trafford, Evra refused to shake the Uruguayan’s hand but after the punishment was handed down by the Football Association, Liverpool wore T-shirts in support of Suarez in the warm-up of their Premier League clash with Wigan.  

"There was no doubt we made a massive mistake," Carragher said on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football, where Evra was also a guest.

"I’m not saying I wasn’t part of it because as the club we got it wrong and I was vice-captain. I’m not sure who was actually behind it. I think it was the players who were close to Luis in the dressing room who really wanted to support their mate.

"Maybe I didn’t have the courage as an individual to say ‘I wasn’t wearing it’. I don’t think everyone at Liverpool thought what we were doing was right.

"Your first reaction is to protect your team-mate. Even when you know they have done something wrong. And that's wrong.

"I’m not condoning what we did. Apologies, we got it massively wrong."

Evra also admitted to feeling shocked when he saw the display from Liverpool’s players.

"When I saw it, I was like this is ridiculous, this is unbelievable. You always have to support your players but this was after the ban," he added.

"What message do you send to the world? Supporting someone being banned because he used some racist words."

Manchester United striker Mason Greenwood is desperate for the chance to prove his worth in the Premier League after signing a four-year deal.

The 18-year-old signed his first professional contract with the club last week and is tipped for a bright future after a series of eye-catching cameos at Old Trafford.

Greenwood has scored in both the Europa League and EFL Cup this season, with manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer repeatedly talking up the teenager's ability.

Asked if he was keen to repay Solskjaer for the faith he has shown in him, Greenwood told the club's official website: "Yeah. I'm going to show everyone what I can do in the times I come on or if I play games.

"I'll try my best and give it all for the team.

"[My aims are] to show everyone what I can do really and why I signed a contract – why I'm here. I just want to show everyone."

Greenwood also explained why he takes penalties with his right foot, even though he prefers his left.

"Actually, it happened when I was in the Under-13's," he added.

"I missed with my left foot against [Manchester] City when I was struggling in a game and, ever since, I've just gone with the right foot. Ever since then, really."

Greenwood has also represented England's Under-21 team this year but has played just 87 minutes of Premier League football.

Manchester United sit 13th in the Premier League table, two points above the relegation zone.

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