Match report: United 1 Young Boys 1
Manchester United signed off the 2021 European efforts with a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford against Young Boys of Switzerland. in the final Champions League match in Group F.
With qualification as group winners already secured, interim boss Ralf Rangnick took game as an opportunity to see more of his players in action.
The German made 11 changes from the United XI that started his first match, against Crystal Palace at home in the Premier League win last Sunday.
Rangnick's Reds took the lead with an athletic hit by Mason Greenwood after just eight minutes, but Young Boys equalised late in the first half through Fabian Rieder.
A competitive second half then played out in wet conditions at the Theatre of Dreams, where senior debuts were handed to Tom Heaton, Charlie Savage and Zidane Iqbal, as well as Champions League bows for Amad, Teden Mengi and Shola Shoretire.
FIRST HALF - MASON HITS A BEAUTY BUT YOUNG BOYS REPLY
United made the perfect start by capitalising on their command with a spectacular goal after just nine minutes.
Feeding off the relaxed manner of the dead rubber but with the need to impress, the Reds were all over our Swiss opponents and Greenwood made it count.
A sweeping move down the left wing saw Luke Shaw keep pace with the attack and, after being fed by Anthony Elanga, he delivered a tempting waist-high cross into the box. It arrived slightly behind Greenwood, but he shifted his body to brilliantly to hit a bicycle volley home with his left foot.
Goalkeeper Dean Henderson had been acting as a sweeper to keep the Swiss from his goal, earning much appreciation from the audience. But he was called on to make a save after 32 minutes from Fabian Rieder and almost immediately after Jordan Siebatcheu headed over.
The Reds responded to this spell with a move that saw Greenwood set up Juan Mata with a cut back pass. The Spaniard, and most of Old Trafford, was celebrating our second goal as he struck but Young Boys captain Fabian Lustenberger stuck out a hopeful trailing leg, blocking and deflecting the effort over the bar.
Then, three minutes before half time, Young Boys levelled the match up.
The Reds were caught attempting to play the ball intricately out of defence and Donny van de Beek’s loose ball was seized on by Rieder. He curled a stunner past Henderson to make it 1-1.
The visitors almost took the lead before the interval when Michel Aebischer crashed in a shot that Eric Bailly needed to hack away to safety to ensure our lead wasn’t completely overturned.
SECOND HALF - MATCH REMAINS ALL SQUARE
Both sides swapped moments to go on the front foot at the start of the second half. Elanga was lively for the Reds, forcing keeper Faivre to push away an inviting cross and then Jesse Lingard inspired a move that saw Anthony thwarted by a block from the goalkeeper.
Sandwiched in between, Meschack Elia pulled a shot wide from a decent chance and in the 66th minute a golden opportunity fell to Quentin Maceiras, but he screwed his effort wide - much to the relief of the Old Trafford crowd.
One-time Huddersfield Town boss David Wagner’s side were certainly enjoying their visit to Manchester and performed well in this final group match, and their last in the Champions League for this season.
Meanwhile, Rangnick used the second 45 minutes to see a few new faces in action, with Mengi, Shoretire and Heaton all making appearances.
Mengi made an impression in the 72nd minute when he handed sub Kanga a chance after he slipped, but the 19-year-old Mancunian rescued the situation when he got back to his feet to brilliantly block the striker’s effort.
More Academy faces got their chances when Savage and Iqbal came on for the closing minutes for their senior debuts.
Given the wholesale changes, this was a decent draw for United and the Reds can now look ahead to the last-16 draw next Monday.
United: Henderson (Heaton 67), Wan-Bissaka, Bailly, Matic © (Shoretire 67), Shaw (Mengi 61), Van de Beek, Mata (Savage 89), Amad, Lingard (Iqbal 89), Greenwood, Elanga.
Subs not used: Kovar, Hardley.
Goal: Greenwood (9)
Young Boys: Faivre,Maceiras, Camara (Lauper 76), Lustenberger (c), Lefort, Martins Pereira, Aebischer (Sierro 62), Elia (Maier 86), Rieder (Hefti 62), Moumi Ngamaleu, Siebatcheu (Kanga 62).
Subs not used: Zesiger, Laidani, Sulejmani, Jankewitz, Bürgy, Toure, Zbinden.
Goal: Rieder (42)