232 days later and 1500 miles away from home, Manchester United finally managed to salvage an away win against Partizan Belgrade and topped it off with a clean sheet as well. The Reds now sit atop their Europa League group adding more steam to the Ole project. In a pretty intense atmosphere, a young side put on a gritty display and managed to grind out a positive result which was imperative to build on the Liverpool performance. Martial converted from the spot in the first half before Romero had to stand firm to see off a late burst from the opposition in the second half. Here’s a rundown of three key performers from last night.
A mature performance from the teenage prodigy deservedly makes him the Man of the Match. Recently brought into the foray, he was busy all evening foraging up and down the left flank. His driving run was responsible in drawing out the tackle from Nemanja Miletic resulting in a penalty. That made him the youngest player(19y & 51d) to win a penalty for Manchester United since Adnan Januzaj (18y & 266d) against Norwich in a League Cup game back in October 2013. With a preferred right foot, he ventured forward more in the first half. he ably absorbed the pressure brought on by a Partizan team cheered on by a rampant crowd in the second. Coming in from the academy, having the right attitude and certainly having the potential, it was quite the professional performance. With the red lights flashing in the distance, Luke Shaw would want to up his game especially with the manager saying ‘We have found a left-back there’ .
Making his customary Europa League appearance, Romero was dealt a little more than what he would’ve liked last night. Although Partizan had only 2 shots on target, if things went according to United’s recent away script, United would’ve been 1-1 or even lost the game at 2-1. The Argentinian shot stopper made a crucial save to protect United’s lead at 1-0. Towards the end of play, he made an even better save from close range to guarantee himself a second clean sheet in 3 appearances this season. Having featured in a Europa League final and arguably being the best No.2 choice goalie in the world currently, it’s amazing how a keeper of his reputation was negotiated for a free transfer.
Being one of the 7 changes rung in from the weekend, 18 year old Jimmy Murphy Young POTY award nominee was called upon to partner McTominay in midfield. Gave away the ball a few times but looked assured as the game moved on. Made key interceptions on throughout but was a little loose with distribution. He also had a shot blocked on 54 minutes. Had a few rash moments at the start but settled down suggesting that more minutes and experience among the the big boys will only do him more good. A respectable full debut.
Manchester United became the first side to beat FK Partizan away from home in European competition since Dynamo Kyiv in September 2017 , ending their 11-game unbeaten run on home soil in Europe. Winning the return fixture on November 7 would also guarantee United a place in the next round in a competition that remains pretty much the only realistic chance of Champions League qualification for next season. Although the performance gave nothing to brag about, a few young players put on a fight to stop the away rot also accumulating important minutes under their belt. A lot of perspective is required before jumping the gun on Ole. Incremental progress from such performances while giving youth a measured opportunity will help build vital momentum.