MANCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM – DECEMBER 12: Ashley Young of Manchester United celebrates 1-0 with Harry Maguire of Manchester United, Anthony Martial of Manchester United during the UEFA Europa League match between Manchester United v AZ Alkmaar at the Old Trafford on December 12, 2019 in Manchester United Kingdom (Photo by Ed van de Pol/Soccrates/Getty Images)
After victories against Jose’s Spurs and Pep’s City, United had the opportunity to continue building momentum against an AZ Alkmaar side who came into the match with 6 successive wins in the Eredivisie.
A total of nine changes were made to the starting 11 by Solskjaer, with just Maguire and Martial keeping their starting places.
The first half very much reflected the wholesale changes, with United not showing the intensity, passing quality or pace that made them so devastating in the previous two matches.
After the half time moan-fest from Jake Humphrey, Michael Owen and Owen Hargreaves on BT Sport, viewers could have been excused if they switched channel to sneak a look at the general election exit polls. However, the second half unexpectedly sprang into life with United’s first goal, following a quality passage of play. United scored a further 3 goals in just over 10 mins.
So, in what was a game of two halves, which players stood out?
Wow! What a performance from the academy star! He was playing off the wing for most of the game. Although not spectacular in the first half he showed good effort and discipline. It was in the second half where he really came to life and inspired United to victory. He laid on a great chance for Martial early in the second half, that should have been put away by the Frenchman. He then went on to steal the limelight in a devastating ten minute spell.
His first goal was a low drive to the keepers left from outside the box, after latching on to the ball as it broke free in midfield. No panic, just a calm controlled well placed shot.
He then powered into the box, drew the challenge from panicked AZ defenders who brought him down for a penalty that Mata tucked away.
His second goal came from him driving in to the box on United’s right, confusing the defender with his fast feet and balance, and then a shot to the near post that seemed to surprise the AZ keeper.
A statement performance from the young Mancunian.
Had a solid game in the centre of United’s midfield. Wasn’t done any favours having to play alongside Matic, who was returning from a long absence, and looked way off with countless misplaced passes. Garner grew into the game. He has the energy and mobility to press out of possession and play it simple when United have the ball. Indeed, it was his attempted tackle, high up the pitch, that lead to Greenwood’s first goal.
Had a shaky start to the game after overplaying the ball in his own half and almost gifting a chance to AZ. However, despite his shortcomings Young is a professional that always shows commitment to the cause, and he grew into this game as it went on. He got forward into attacking positions in the second half, and then after a good United move he fired a shot into the roof of the net from an acute angle to get the opening goal.
What do you think?