Anthony Martial was pleased to have made an impact for France upon his return to the squad after two and a half years in the wilderness as the world champions defeated Croatia 4-2 in the Nations League.

France head coach Didier Deschamps called up Martial to the national team for the first time since March 2018 following a stellar season at club level for the Manchester United striker.

The 24-year-old came on as a substitute in the 1-0 victory over Sweden on Saturday and won a penalty that Antoine Griezmann fired over.

With Kylian Mbappe ruled out of Tuesday's Nations League clash against Croatia after testing positive for coronavirus, Martial was handed a start and set up Griezmann to restore parity after Dejan Lovren's opener in Paris.

Martial then saw his effort from Wissam Ben Yedder's cross hit the post and go in off the back off goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic, putting France ahead before half-time.

Josip Brekalo equalised 10 minutes after the restart but Dayot Upamecano's header and a penalty from Olivier Giroud gave Les Bleus victory in the replay of the 2018 World Cup final, which they won by the same scoreline.

"It's been a long time since I played for France and it was important to me to have a good match," Martial told TF1. "I managed to score and provide an assist. We won and I'm very happy.

"It was a bit complicated in the front three at the start because we didn't have the ball, but as soon as we managed to combine, we knew how to put them in danger.

"The victory was great. We scored points and that's important."

France laboured to victory over Sweden and Deschamps persisted with the same 3-4-3 formation against Croatia, though he changed seven players in his line-up.

Deschamps hopes to iron out the kinks in the system ahead of the delayed Euro 2020 next year.

"It's a good thing we had difficulties. The formation is new and we don't have all the automatisms. I changed seven players between the two matches, but I'm not looking for excuses," he told TF1.

"We need to be having difficulties now. June 2021 will not be the time for that.

"Everyone can analyse as they please. This system has advantages and disadvantages, but it will be necessary to repeat this system to develop the automatisms."

Anthony Martial was handed his first France start for two and a half years in the Nations League meeting with Croatia on Tuesday.

Didier Deschamps named the Manchester United striker in a starting line-up for Les Bleus for the first time since a friendly against Russia in March 2018.

Martial replaced Kylian Mbappe, who took a knock to his right ankle, in the 1-0 victory over Sweden on Saturday and won a late penalty that Antoine Griezmann skied.

With Mbappe having left the group after testing positive for COVID-19, Martial was picked alongside Wissam Ben Yedder, who came in for Olivier Giroud, in attack at the Stade de France.

Hugo Lloris, Dayot Upamecano, N'Golo Kante and Griezmann were the only players to retain their spots following the unconvincing win against Sweden.

Clement Lenglet and Lucas Hernandez were drafted into a three-man defence, with Ferland Mendy and Moussa Sissoko deployed in the full-back positions.

The only other change saw Steven N'Zonzi come in for Adrien Rabiot.

France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris believes Anthony Martial has grown more confident under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Manchester United.

The forward made his first international appearance since March 2018 when he came on as a substitute in the 1-0 Nations League win over Sweden on Saturday.

Martial won a penalty after drawing a foul from United team-mate Victor Lindelof, only for Antoine Griezmann to miss from the spot.

The 24-year-old, who scored 23 goals in all competitions at club level last season, could be involved on Tuesday in the clash with Croatia after Kylian Mbappe hurt his ankle against Sweden.

Lloris thinks the pressure is now on Martial to follow up his most prolific season with continued good form, but the Tottenham captain believes the former Monaco man will benefit from playing in United's more fluid attack.

"I don't know how his relationship with Solskjaer is, but I think he's more confident," said Lloris.

"There's a very good understanding with the players around him at Manchester United.

"There'll be expectations on him; he will have to confirm his good season. He's committed to doing well for five, 10 minutes, a half or a whole game."

The meeting with Croatia is a repeat of the 2018 World Cup final, which France won 4-2 at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium, but Lloris expects their opponents to be more concerned about making amends for a chastening 4-1 loss to Portugal last weekend.

"It's a different context, a different competition [to the World Cup]," he said. "It'll be a whole different game.

"We expect a Croatia team whose pride is a little hurt after the defeat to Portugal.

"We'll try to confirm the result we got in Sweden. Beyond that, we would have liked to have played in front of our fans. It's still an advantage when you play at home - we know they'll be in front of their TVs to cheer us on."

Kylian Mbappe is fit to play for France in Tuesday's Nations League meeting with Croatia after responding well to a right ankle knock, coach Didier Deschamps has confirmed.

Mbappe was forced off 77 minutes into France's slender 1-0 win over Sweden on Saturday, with the Paris Saint-Germain star suffering a blow to his foot.

The 21-year-old damaged the same ankle in PSG's Coupe de France final triumph over Saint-Etienne on July 24, just about recovering in time for the resumption of the club's Champions League campaign three weeks later.

Although Mbappe said after the unconvincing Sweden victory that he would be fine, Deschamps expressed concern and insisted he would take no risks with the prodigious forward.

But it appears he has recovered quickly and will be in contention for Tuesday's rematch of the 2018 World Cup final.

"It's okay, I've no particular worries," Deschamps told reporters on Monday regarding Mbappe's condition.

"He had a little shock during the game. He will take part in today's session. As he says, with each passing day things are getting better and better. I've no fears for his ankle compared to Saturday.

"The full 23 are available, Kim [Presnel Kimpembe] and Kylian too, they know it, I know it. I am not in the place of the clubs.

"This is an international match and we will do everything to win it, even if in the analysis I take different things into account."

While Mbappe is available, Deschamps may opt against throwing him in from the start due to his condition, meaning Anthony Martial – the PSG striker's replacement on Saturday – could get his first start for Les Bleus since a March 2018 friendly against Russia.

Deschamps recognises his versatility in attack is useful, while captain Hugo Lloris noted the 24-year-old appears more confident having enjoyed a resurgence under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Manchester United.

"He's capable of playing on the flank too, but in Manchester he's really a number nine," Deschamps said. "He might not have the typical profile of a centre-forward, though he has that versatility there. He has gained consistency and efficiency."

Lloris added: "I don't know how his relationship with Solskjaer is, but I find he is more confident."

France will be hoping to at the very least keep pace with Portugal at the top of Nations League Group A3 when they face Croatia, who were resoundingly beaten 4-1 by Fernando Santos' talented side on Saturday.

Portugal will be hosted by Sweden on Tuesday, with Cristiano Ronaldo potentially back in contention as they go for two wins from as many games.

Wolves have pulled off what will likely be one of the coups of the transfer window in securing a club-record deal for the highly rated Fabio Silva.

The 18-year-old forward joins in a reported €40million (£35.6m) transfer, signing a five-year contract to further expand Wolves' significant Portuguese contingent.

Executive chairman Jeff Shi confirmed his signing had come at the request of head coach Nuno Espirito Santo and it sees Wolves secure a talent strongly linked with Real Madrid and Liverpool in the past.

The deal makes Silva the seventh costliest teenager in history, and he joins illustrious company, as outlined below…

Kylian Mbappe: Monaco to Paris Saint-Germain - €180m

Likely to remain the world's most expensive teenage signing for some time, Kylian Mbappe is already well on the way to justifying the €180m outlay PSG made to prise him away from Monaco three years ago. Mbappe had fired Monaco to a shock Ligue 1 title triumph before departing and his goals have continued to flow in the French capital. Still just 21, Mbappe has arguably eclipsed team-mate Neymar already, while he has won a World Cup with France. Pele has acknowledged comparisons with the forward, who looks a certain Ballon d'Or winner in the near future. It would take a world-record fee to buy Mbappe, but he has hinted he could be open to leaving PSG.

Joao Felix: Benfica to Atletico Madrid - €126m

Potentially rivalling Mbappe for top individual honours in the years to come could be Joao Felix, who was tasked with replacing Antoine Griezmann at Atletico Madrid following his move to Barcelona. Joao Felix hit 20 goals in all competitions for Benfica in 2018-19, three of those strikes coming in the Europa League, to announce himself among the world's top talents. He endured a difficult first season in Spain, as he appeared to struggle with a new position, setup and philosophy under Diego Simeone's tutelage, but some promising flashes towards the end of the campaign suggested the player compared to Kaka could establish himself in 2020-21.

Matthijs de Ligt: Ajax to Juventus - €85.5m

Barcelona were linked with De Ligt, having already sealed a deal for club and country team-mate Frenkie de Jong, but the Ajax captain instead opted for Serie A. Much like Joao Felix at Atletico, De Ligt did not have the most convincing of debut seasons, despite Juve going on to win another Serie A title. Nevertheless, after a year bedding in, 2020-21 might see the Dutchman recapture his best form as he will likely become an even more central figure under Andrea Pirlo.

Anthony Martial: Monaco to Manchester United - €60m

Eyebrows were raised when United parted with €60m for Martial in 2015, with one British newspaper describing the deal as a "waste of money" in a back-page splash. While it might have taken him a while - after a blistering start - to properly establish himself, struggling particularly under Jose Mourinho, the Frenchman is beginning to make good on his potential at 24. With 17 goals in 32 Premier League games in 2019-20, Martial appeared to cement himself as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's first-choice centre-forward and formed a dynamic front three with Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood. He also earned a recall to the France squad, with 2020-21 looking like a season of endless possibilities for Martial.


Rodrygo Goes: Santos to Real Madrid - €45m

Real Madrid have been signing young talent in recent seasons in a departure from their Galactico-focused days, although the arrival of Eden Hazard did show they are still willing to splash out on ready-made superstars. Rodrygo Goes linked up with Zinedine Zidane's squad for 2019-20 having remained on loan with Santos after completing his initial transfer to the Spanish giants. The tricky forward showed plenty of promise in his first season and seemed to usurp Vinicius Junior in the pecking order at times. Madrid hope he can be their Neymar.


Vinicius Junior: Flamengo to Real Madrid - €45m

Rodrygo followed in the footsteps of fellow Brazilian Vinicius, who was a rare shining light for Madrid in 2018-19, scoring two LaLiga goals. In his second season, Vinicius was in and out of the team, but did enjoy a few stints of regular football. Flashy, flamboyant and difficult to tackle, Vinicius is a classic Brazilian wide player, though concerns about his end product remain despite having been at the club for a while now. Nevertheless, Vinicius could be Madrid's future along with Rodrygo.

Fabio Silva: Porto to Wolves - €40m

Silva became Porto's youngest-ever player in 2019 when he made his debut for the first-team less than a month after his 17th birthday – the previous record-holder was his new Wolves team-mate, Ruben Neves. The technically gifted forward, who has been suggested as the potential long-term heir to Cristiano Ronaldo, helped Porto to UEFA Youth League success in 2018-19 and has regularly caught the eye in Portugal's youth setup. Although he only scored three times in 20 appearances with Porto in 2019-20, Silva appears destined for a future at the top, with his technique and on-the-ball talents seemingly a good fit for Wolves' dynamic attacking options.

Luke Shaw: Southampton to Manchester United - €37.5m

Like Martial, Luke Shaw is another player who seems to have laboured under a large price tag at times. Shaw also had a fractious relationship with Mourinho but made the United left-back spot his own with 29 Premier League starts in 2018-19. The 24-year-old remained a regular last term, despite the emergence of Brandon Williams, and managed to stay relatively injury-free, but one rarely gets the impression his position in the squad is absolutely certain, particularly given his attacking output lacks in comparison to the world's best full-backs.


Wayne Rooney: Everton to Manchester United - €37m

Wayne Rooney certainly repaid his fee – he was British football's most expensive teenager – becoming United's all-time leading goalscorer and winning five Premier League titles at the club, as well as the 2007-08 Champions League. Rooney will go down as a United great despite affairs such as agitating for a move and falling out with Alex Ferguson. Rooney dropped out of favour in the latter years of his time at Old Trafford and was also sidelined for England, with a return to boyhood club Everton failing to spark. But joining MLS strugglers DC United was a clever move and Rooney helped inspire their rise. Now 34, he is back in England with Derby County.


Renato Sanches: Benfica to Bayern Munich - €35m

Bayern thought they were signing a player who would become one of the era's dominant midfielders when they snapped up Renato Sanches from Benfica, but the transfer did not work out at all. Bayern bought Sanches before he won Euro 2016 with Portugal but, four years later, that remains the highlight of his career. Sanches flopped in a loan spell with Swansea City in the Premier League and quickly appeared surplus to requirements at Bayern. He eventually secured a permanent move away last year when Die Roten recouped €25m for him - applaudable given his form - when selling him to Lille. But in France he seems to have found his feet again, enjoying a solid debut season and attracting interest from around Europe.

France head coach Didier Deschamps says Adrien Rabiot has earned the right to receive another chance after being named in the squad for September's Nations League matches against Sweden and Croatia.

Rabiot has spent two years out of the picture for France after refusing to be placed on the standby list for the 2018 World Cup.

French Football Federation (FFF) president Noel Le Graet said the midfielder, who was with Paris Saint-Germain at the time, had made a "bad decision" that was to the detriment of "himself alone".

Having regained some form and fitness for Juventus in 2019-20, Rabiot has now been given another chance by Deschamps, who insists his position on the matter had never been inflexible.

"It's very simple. We continued to follow Adrien Rabiot. He found a very, very good level with his club, with Juventus," he said.

"What happened, happened. We are not going to go back to that, and neither is he. I'm not someone who likes to take radical positions.

"He stayed selectable and I made the decision to give him his return for this call-up.

"I don't usually notify the players that I'm calling them up. I dare to think he will be there on Monday.

"In 2018, he made a decision, I think it was a mistake on his part and so did he. But there weren't any harsh words or aggression from him. If you have any concerns about my authority, don't worry."

Deschamps has also recalled Anthony Martial, who last featured for his country in a 3-1 friendly win over Russia in March 2018.

The Manchester United forward scored 23 goals in all competitions last season for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side.

"He was called up very, very early," Deschamps said of Martial, who made his debut as an 19-year-old in 2015. "He's much more efficient, he's gained consistency.

"I won't be able to take away the disappointment of 2018 [when Martial was left out for the World Cup].

"I have called him up again several times since 2018, and he wasn't able to be there. I hope this time is the right time."

Paul Pogba is absent from France's squad for their upcoming Nations League fixtures due to coronavirus, but his Manchester United team-mate Anthony Martial has earned a recall. 

Martial, 24, initially broke into France's senior reckoning as a 19-year-old shortly before he joined United in 2015, going on to win 18 caps. 

But, after a promising first season in England, Martial's form suffered and he found himself struggling to hold down a regular starting position, which in turn saw others usurp him in the pecking order for France. 

The versatile forward has seen his career at Old Trafford reinvigorated by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, however, with the 2019-20 campaign seeing him finish with a career-best 23 goals across all competitions. 

United team-mate Pogba will not be joining him against Sweden and Croatia, though, due to the midfielder’s COVID-19 diagnosis – instead, he is replaced by 17-year-old talent Eduardo Camavinga. 

The Rennes prospect will become the youngest player to represent France since World War Two, should he feature in either match. 

There are also maiden call-ups for RB Leipzig centre-back Dayot Upamecano and Lyon midfielder Houssem Aouar, while Adrien Rabiot - like Martial - is included for the first time since March 2018. 

Bayern Munich trio Benjamin Pavard, Corentin Tolisso and Kingsley Coman are rested following their team's Champions League success, though club colleague Lucas Hernandez is included. 

Nabil Fekir, Thomas Lemar and Tanguy Ndombele are also among those left out. 

France face Sweden in Solna on September 5, then host Croatia three days later at the Stade de France in a repeat of the 2018 World Cup final.

France squad in full:

Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Mike Maignan (Lille), Steve Mandanda (Marseille); Lucas Digne (Everton), Leo Dubois (Lyon), Lucas Hernandez (Bayern Munich), Presnel Kimpembe (Paris Saint-Germain), Clement Lenglet (Barcelona), Ferland Mendy, Raphael Varane (both Real Madrid), Dayot Upamecano (RB Leipzig); Eduardo Camavinga (Rennes), N'Golo Kante (Chelsea), Steven Nzonzi (Rennes), Adrien Rabiot (Juventus), Moussa Sissoko (Tottenham), Houssem Aouar (Lyon); Wissam Ben Yedder (Monaco), Olivier Giroud (Chelsea), Antoine Griezmann (Barcelona), Jonathan Ikone (Lille), Anthony Martial (Manchester United), Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain). 

Manchester United star Anthony Martial said the trust of manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and increased game time was behind his stellar 2019-20 season. 

Martial ended the campaign as United's leading scorer with 23 goals in all competitions, one ahead of team-mate Marcus Rashford.

The 24-year-old French forward netted 17 goals in the Premier League to help United finish third and qualify for the Champions League, while he managed four during the club's run to the Europa League semi-finals.

It was Martial's best goalscoring tally for United since arriving from Ligue 1 outfit Monaco in 2015 and he explained the reasons for his stellar form at Old Trafford.

"I think it's down to the fact that I've enjoyed more game time. I've played in practically every game and so I think it's all about consistency," Martial, who was in and out of the team under former boss Jose Mourinho, told Inside United magazine.

"In previous seasons I haven't been able to feature as regularly; I'd be on the bench quite a bit and other times I'd be starting, which was quite difficult.

"Whereas right now I know that the coach has faith in me and I’m confident of starting the next match. So, I'm giving everything I can in order to pay back that trust he has shown.

"[I'm hungry for all goals] because for me, a goal is a goal. So simply by managing to score more of a simple kind of goal, I know that I'll score a lot more in total.

"It's something that we work on a lot in training and I then try and reproduce that in a match situation."

United's Martial and England international Rashford also finished joint-top for assists in 2019-20.

"With Marcus, I think that we've been playing together for five seasons now and so, yes, we have that good understanding. It's a real positive for us that we have this great connection," added Martial.

"We just try to help each other out. For example, there are some games where maybe a shot is on and then I decide to wait and see, and I give him the ball because I want him to score. And he does the same thing for me, so you see, we're not just focused on scoring all the time.

"We're always going to do everything we can for the team to win which means that, if he is better placed than me or I'm in a better position than him, we'll always give each other the ball in order to score.

"There is healthy competition, but the biggest thing is the positive rapport that we have with one another."

Jules Kounde insists he is in no rush to leave Sevilla at the end of the season despite links with several European heavyweights, though he accepts not everything will be in his control.

Kounde, 21, joined Sevilla from Bordeaux last year in a deal that could reach €25million, which would make the centre-back the club's record signing.

The Frenchman has enjoyed an impressive adaptation and cemented himself as a regular partner for Diego Carlos, who, like Kounde, arrived from Ligue 1 last year and is attracting significant interest.

Kounde's impressive performances in the recent Europa League victories over Roma and Wolves have contributed to even greater exposure and admiration.

Real Madrid and Barcelona are just two of the clubs said to be interested in the France Under-21 international, who is reported to have a release clause greater than €75m.

Up next for Sevilla is a semi-final showdown with Manchester United, giving Kounde another opportunity to catch the eye, and while he sees it a good thing to be interesting other clubs, he is relaxed about the future.

"It is always good that you interest teams, be it Diego or myself," he told Marca. "We are very focused on winning this cup. I don't look at other teams.

"I'm good at Sevilla. Next year we are going to play in the Champions League and we all deserve it. I am very focused and very happy here.

"It is something that I control, but sometimes there are parameters that do not depend on me. I do not look away [from Sevilla]."

Despite Sevilla's pedigree in the competition and their 19-match unbeaten run, Kounde does not think Los Nervionenses will be considered favourites by most.

"I do not know if we are favourites. For most people I don't think so," he added. "But we don't care.

"Nobody wants to go to the final and win the cup as much as we do. We will give everything on the pitch. In the end, when we give everything, we can beat any team."

Sunday's contest will see Kounde come up against fellow Frenchmen Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial and he considers himself very familiar with the latter.

He said: "I have seen [Martial] play many times. He is a very good forward, very complete. Powerful, fast, skilful with the ball and we are sure that we will have to be very aware, as with Adama [Traore, against Wolves], even if he is another level of power.

"Diego and I will have to talk a lot. We cannot leave him spaces."

On Pogba, Kounde added: "He is an important player, a reference in world football. He has a lot of quality, one of the best midfielders in the world and is very important in the France team.

"Their individuals are very powerful, but we focus on the collective and ourselves. We know what United represents in the world, they are a reference."

Liverpool right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold has seen off competition from a trio of Manchester United players to be crowned the Premier League's Young Player of the Season.

The 21-year-old scored four goals and set up 13 more in a brilliant 2019-20 campaign that saw Liverpool end their 30-year wait for top-flight success.

Alexander-Arnold also helped the champions keep 12 clean sheets and saw off competition from United's Mason Greenwood, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford for the award.

Chelsea pair Christian Pulisic and Mason Mount were also nominated for the inaugural prize, as was Aston Villa's Jack Grealish and Sheffield United loanee Dean Henderson.

The award is for players who were aged 23 or under at the start of the 2019-20 season and is voted for by fans. 

Alexander-Arnold is also in contention to win the Premier League Player of the Season accolade, along with team-mates Jordan Henderson and Sadio Mane, as well as Kevin De Bruyne, Jamie Vardy, Nick Pope and Danny Ings.

Anthony Martial looked a "£100million player" and was labelled a "Ferrari" by Owen Hargreaves after Manchester United's Europa League win over Copenhagen. 

France forward Martial won the penalty from which Bruno Fernandes scored to send United to the semi-finals via a 1-0 extra-time win in Cologne on Monday. 

The Red Devils had 14 shots on target and hit the woodwork twice in the quarter-final tie, with Martial impressing while leading the line. 

His performance drew praise from manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who said: "He was sharp. 

"Anthony has developed throughout the season, he was involved with the penalty. 

"He's impossible to stop at times when he gets the ball into his feet and he drives at people, his balance, he can go either way.  

"The only thing now is to put that ball in the back of the net again. I'm delighted with his performance, though." 

Former United midfielder Hargreaves was equally effusive of his praise when commenting on Martial's fine performance for his role as a pundit for BT Sport. 

"Everyone's got an opinion on Martial. He's a Ferrari," he said.  

"He just looked like a £100million player." 

Ex-United forward Robin van Persie was also impressed by what he saw and described Martial as "world class". 

"The outstanding player for me tonight was Martial," Van Persie said. "When he switches it on, he's just too fast, too silky and wow, what a player. 

"He is such a joy to watch. It's like he's having a kick-about in his own garden. 

"What I like about Martial is he has an eye for his team-mates – he isn't just playing for himself. He always has an eye for his team-mates and that's what sets him apart from very good players.  

"That's why I think he's world-class. He can provide, he can give assists, he dribbles, he's fast but he has great awareness of what's around him." 

United legend Paul Scholes joined in the praise of Martial, who he feels is developing into a quality centre-forward. 

"I like him, I've always liked him," Scholes said. "I thought is he a number nine or is he a wide player? He's turned himself into a number nine with every game I watch more and more. 

"I think when he squares a player up and gets a run at him, I think he's unstoppable. I don't see how you stop him. He's only started showing it lately. 

"He's got everything, he can beat a man, he can score goals, he's got everything you'd want in a centre forward."

Liverpool dominate the nominations for the Premier League Player of the Season, Young Player of the Season and Manager of the Season awards for 2019-20.

Football Writers' Association Footballer of the Year Jordan Henderson, along with team-mates Trent Alexander-Arnold and Sadio Mane, are up for the league's Player of the Season prize.

Manchester City star Kevin De Bruyne, Golden Boot winner Jamie Vardy, Southampton striker Danny Ings and Burnley goalkeeper Nick Pope are the other nominees.

Alexander-Arnold is also up for the inaugural Young Player of the Season, as are Aston Villa captain Jack Grealish and Chelsea duo Christian Pulisic and Mason Mount.

There are four Manchester United players on the shortlist: Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford, Mason Greenwood and Dean Henderson, who is on loan at Sheffield United.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp leads the nominees for the Manager of the Season prize, with Leicester City's Brendan Rodgers and Sheffield United's Chris Wilder also selected.

Frank Lampard, who took Chelsea to a fourth-place finish and lost the FA Cup final to Arsenal, is the other nominee.

Each award will be decided through a combination of fan votes and input from a panel of experts.

Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk was named the Player of the Season in 2018-19, while Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has won the manager's accolade for the past two campaigns.

Manchester United eased into the quarter-finals of the Europa League with a 7-1 aggregate defeat of LASK following Wednesday's 2-1 win in the last-16 second leg. 

Jesse Lingard cancelled out a spectacular opening goal from Philipp Wiesinger at Old Trafford before substitute Anthony Martial sealed the win with two minutes of normal time left. 

The first-leg thrashing in Austria, United's last game before the coronavirus pandemic halted the season, set the Red Devils up for a relatively comfortable return game against a side whose domestic season finished a month ago. 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made nine changes from the team that ended the Premier League season with a 2-0 win at Leicester City, leading to a disjointed first-half display in which they failed to muster a shot on target. 

Andres Andrade nodded the ball off the crossbar and Marko Raguz was denied by a good Sergio Romero save, as LASK showed greater early initiative.

United's first meaningful effort on goal was a low strike from Odion Ighalo, who turned well from Juan Mata's pass but shot too close to Alexander Schlager. 

At the other end, Romero could do nothing to stop Wiesinger putting LASK ahead, the defender sending a stunning first-time strike into the top-right corner from 25 yards out. 

The lead lasted just two minutes, though, Mata sending a pass into the path of Lingard, who had plenty of time to side-foot past Schlager from inside the penalty area. 

Romero just about kept out a Dominik Reiter effort at his near post before Solskjaer handed 18-year-old Teden Mengi his senior debut at right-back. 

It was another second-half substitute, Martial, who got the winner, combining superbly with Mata before side-footing through the legs of Schlager, who was just unable to keep the shot out. 

What does it mean? United must now wake up and smell Cologne 

It would have been a truly sensational result if LASK had come back to win this tie, and Solskjaer's changed line-up was no surprise given the fatigue some of his players had shown at the end of the league season. 

This was a chance for some back-up players to stake a claim for a starting spot in the quarter-final in Cologne next Monday, when United will take on Copenhagen, who were 3-1 aggregate winners over Turkish champions Istanbul Basaksehir. 

For the established stars given a chance to rest, the preparation starts now. 

Lingard finding form at last 

"I lost who I was as a player and person, but I never wanted to give up," Lingard wrote on social media after scoring his first league goal of the season with practically the last kick of the final game at Leicester. 

The England international admitted to some tough self-reflection after a very difficult season, but a second goal in as many games is a sign he is beginning to find his way again. 

Left-back limitations 

Brandon Williams earned a new contract thanks to a breakthrough season for United, but his recent outings in place of the injured Luke Shaw have not been of the highest standard. 

He was defensively capable on Wednesday but, as a right-footed left-back, he simply does not offer enough of an attacking threat on the overlap down the wing. Shaw's absence for the rest of the tournament could be keenly felt. 

What's next? 

United will now prepare for the meeting with Copenhagen in Germany on August 10. As for LASK, they have three friendlies scheduled before their 2020-21 season starts in the domestic cup against Siegendorf on August 27. 

The Premier League's longest season yet concluded on Sunday with Liverpool champions for the first time.

The Reds were comfortable in ending a 30-year wait for a top-flight title, but there was drama until the closing minutes of the final day.

Manchester United and Chelsea can celebrate Champions League qualification as the division's strugglers reflect on their contrasting fortunes.

Meanwhile, with the help of Opta data, we look at some of the quirkiest numbers from the 2019-20 campaign.


5 - David Luiz conceded five penalties in the Premier League this season, the most a player has ever given away in a single season in the competition.

167 - Jack Grealish was fouled 167 times in the 2019-20 Premier League, the most fouls won by a player in a single campaign on record (since 1998-99).

24 - Scott McTominay now has the fastest Premier League yellow card on record. He was booked just 24 seconds into Manchester United's December home win against Newcastle United.

2000 - It was a season of milestones for McTominay, who scored Manchester United's 2000th Premier League goal against Norwich City in October. They became the first club to the landmark.

27 - The Norwich class of 2019-20 became the only side not to record a single point from a losing position in Premier League history. They lost all 27 matches in which they fell behind.

4 - Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard's fourth-placed finish is the highest finish for an English manager in their debut Premier League season since Frank Clark's Nottingham Forest came third in 1994-95.

2 - Lampard's season ended well, but September's 2-1 defeat to Liverpool made him just the second Chelsea boss - after Bobby Campbell in 1988 - to lose his first four home matches in all competitions.

33 - At the age of 33, Jamie Vardy became the oldest player to win the Premier League Golden Boot, scoring 23 goals in 2019-20.

5 - Virgil van Dijk became just the fifth outfield player to play every minute for a Premier League title-winning side, following Gary Pallister (1992-93), John Terry (2014-15), Wes Morgan (2015-16) and Cesar Azpilicueta (2016-17).

2013 - Anthony Martial's June hat-trick against Sheffield United was Manchester United's first in the Premier League since Robin van Persie scored three against Aston Villa in April 2013.

7 - Martial and Marcus Rashford assisted one another a combined seven times in this season's Premier League, the most of any pairing in a single edition of the competition for Manchester United.

49 - All 49 clubs to have played in the Premier League have conceded at least one hat-trick after Raheem Sterling's three-goal haul against Brighton and Hove Albion in July.

14 - Manchester United won 14 penalties in the 2019-20 season, the most a team has ever won in a single Premier League campaign.

29 - Harry Kane is the only player to face more than one club in the Premier League and score against them all, with Sheffield United the 29th he netted against.

15 - Kevin De Bruyne ended the season with a joint-record 20 assists - tied with Thierry Henry - but he became the first player to set up 15 goals in three separate Premier League campaigns.

93 - Tottenham went a record 93 games without a goalless draw before they were held 0-0 by Watford in January.

After years of indifference and relative failure compared to their illustrious recent past, the ‘old Manchester United’ may just have emerged from their slumber. 

The club were on a 19-game unbeaten streak before Sunday's FA Cup semi-final loss to Chelsea (W14 D5), their best run of form without a loss in all competitions since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013  

Bruno Fernandes, the Red Devils’ January acquisition is rightly getting the praise as the catalyst in midfield. After all, the Portuguese player started his career at United with only one loss in 17 games in all competitions (W12 D5), scoring nine times and assisting a further eight goals. But the emergence of Mason Greenwood on the right has also helped Manchester United play some of their most eye-catching football this season. 

Solskjaer is preaching Manchester United’s well-established policy of using younger players where possible, using the youngest starting XI in the Premier League this season on average at 25 years and 98 days.

The Norwegian has given 2020 minutes to teenage players this season, with Greenwood accounting for over half (1145). 

Only two teenage Premier League players have been given more playing time this season than him, Max Aarons who turned 20 in January and Bukayo Saka who has made an impression at Arsenal for his number of assists this season. 
 


Greenwood, who became Manchester United’s youngest ever Premier League starter on the final day of last season against Cardiff City (17 years and 223 days), has had to bide his time, at least in the league. 

Daniel James’ arrival from Swansea City last summer meant a competitor on the right for Greenwood and the Welshman made an immediate impact for United, scoring in three of his first four Premier League games. 

However since then, James has scored just once in 40 matches, against LASK in the Europa League in March, with that strike being his only direct goal contribution in 21 club matches in 2020. Greenwood used the Europa League as a proving ground in 2019, scoring four times in the group stage for United, as well as becoming United’s youngest European scorer ever with a goal against Astana (17 years 353 days). 

Those performances ensured a place in the thoughts of Solskjaer long term. 

Greenwood has made 19 Premier League appearances as a substitute for United this season, the most by any player for the club in a Premier League season. If anyone knows the importance of cameos, then it’s probably Solskjaer, who made his own name for the Red Devils in that manner. 

James’ downturn in form and Greenwood’s rise through the ranks has seen Solskjaer opt for the latter more regularly since the restart, given his superior contribution to goals, as well as being nearly as creative on a per-90 basis across the campaign. 


James arguably prefers to run into space whereas Greenwood is happier running at defenders, so both offer alternatives to the United manager. 

James does carry the ball an average of 14.2m, the best average figure in the Premier League this season for any player who has played more than 700 minutes, showing an ability to progress the ball forward. However, 11% of Greenwood’s carries this season have resulted in a shot from the youngster, compared to just 5% for James, showing a desire from Greenwood to instigate the attack rather than be just part of it. 

Greenwood’s 10 Premier League starts since the beginning of December have yielded a return of six goals and one assist.

Based on expected goals, Greenwood should have scored 2.5 non-penalty goals in the Premier League this season but has nine to his name. Only Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang fares better in this regard, with team-mate Anthony Martial also in the top five. 

However, Greenwood’s return from his total of shots is far above what is expected (241% higher), suggesting that his overperformance over this short period of time is not sustainable long-term. There was a hint of this in his performance against Southampton as he was effectively shut out of the match by Ryan Bertrand. 
 


Regardless, Greenwood’s knack of finding the target from the same area of the field is reaping rewards, with six of his nine goals coming from a similar position, right off-centre from the penalty spot. Two more come from the opposite side, with one of the nine coming from inside the six-yard box.



Should he keep up his impressive performances, he could be looking at becoming the first player since Michael Owen in 1997/98 to score 10+ goals in a Premier League season aged 18 or under.

Robbie Fowler is the only other player to do this in a Premier League season, with Wayne Rooney the last person to net nine times aged 18 or under. It isn’t bad company to keep. 
 


Greenwood’s 32 games before turning 19 are comfortably the most for a Manchester United player in the Premier League and 13 more than team-mate Marcus Rashford who burst onto the scene four years prior (19 games before 19). 

Greenwood’s minutes before his 19th birthday are lower than the likes of Rashford and Ryan Giggs, mainly due to his use as a substitute earlier in 2019/20, but it is higher than Cristiano Ronaldo. 
 


Only three names in Manchester United’s post-war history have scored more goals in all competitions than Greenwood before turning 19, including the legendary George Best.

Greenwood has until October to try to surpass Norman Whiteside’s tally of 26 goals, with plenty of time to move his way up the rankings.



The hype around Greenwood seems unavoidable, especially with the ease in which he’s slotted into an attacking triumvirate with Rashford and Martial, both of whom have experience of high expectations early on from the Old Trafford support.  

Martial made his United debut in 2015 at 19, scoring from the bench against Liverpool and twice against Southampton a game later.

Rashford was handed his first appearance for the club after the Frenchman was injured in the warm-up against FC Midtjylland and duly scored twice. He then followed that up with a brace on his Premier League debut, so by comparison Greenwood has been given the slow burn experience towards stardom. 

All three have hit 15+ goals for Manchester United this season (Rashford and Martial both have 22 to Greenwood’s 16), with all three having their best scoring seasons in their career. 

The trio’s goals account for 57% of United’s total in all competitions this season, showing how important all three are in their own way. Their minutes per goal figures all sit around the same range – Greenwood scoring every 140 minutes, Rashford 141 and Martial 144.  

This is the first time since 2012/13 that Manchester United have had three scorers bag 15+ goals each. However, it’s arguable that the last time United had a trio capable playing together this cohesively was in 2008, with the Champions League-winning combination of Carlos Tevez, Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo as a front-three.

That trio was heavily reliant on Ronaldo’s outstanding campaign in which he scored 42 goals in 49 games. 



The early signs of this fledging trio are encouraging. Martial, Rashford and Greenwood have started together nine times since November, with Solskjaer reluctant to experiment on the combination too soon in Greenwood’s development. 

In three of those matches (Partizan Belgrade in November, Newcastle in December and Bournemouth in July) all three players have found the net. Across those nine fixtures, the trio have scored a combined 22 goals (2.4 per game). That’s a better rate than the 2007/08 trio, who scored between them an average of 2.1 goals per game when they all started, with all three scoring in four separate matches in the season. 

As evidenced by the match against Southampton and Crystal Palace, when one is perceived to be having a weaker game, the other two step up, as Greenwood failed to score but both Rashford and Martial provided finishes in each match. 



By looking at the expected goals maps since the Premier League restarted, it’s clear that each player has a defined role but equally some flexibility within that. Martial is trusted to stay centrally and finish chances within the box, with Rashford and Greenwood trying efforts from further back.

Rashford has acted as another linkman in this formation after Fernandes, providing three assists since the Premier League resumed (all for Martial). However he’s performing marginally below his expected goals numbers (excluding penalties, 3.3 xG, 2 goals scored). 




Whether he intended for it to happen as soon as it has, Solskjaer appears to have stumbled upon his ideal XI with a blistering attack ably bolstered by a balanced midfield of Fernandes, Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic sitting deep. 

With the top four race intensifying, it will be interesting to see if Manchester United’s manager is willing to deviate or keep his faith in United’s new fledglings.

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