Talking Points: United v Alkmaar
Manchester United enjoyed a superb 4-0 win against AZ Alkmaar on Thursday night, thanks to goals from Ashley Young, Mason Greenwood (2) and Juan Mata.
A GAME OF TWO HALVES
The Reds really weren’t at the races in the opening 45 minutes – in fact, the visitors were most probably the better side. They certainly looked the more likely to score, with Yukinari Sugawara and Calvin Stengs going close, but in the second half it was a completely different story. United took the game to the Dutch side, and they simply couldn’t cope with our pace, power and directness. To score four goals in one half is no mean feat and United really were excellent after the break.
Click through our pics from the Reds' emphatic final group win in the Europa League.
United’s goals all came during one devastating 11-minute period at Old Trafford. It all began in the 53rd minute, when Young broke the deadlock via his impressive finish from an acute angle. The goal spurred Ole’s men into life and, soon after, we’d bagged another three courtesy of Greenwood’s double and Mata’s penalty. We’ve seen some brilliant attacking performances in recent weeks from United, but that spell was up there with the very best. An absolute pleasure to watch!
Greenwood may still be finding his feet in the first-team set-up, but Thursday was arguably his best performance to date for the club. The teenager again found the back of the net in the Europa League, meaning he has now scored in all three of our home matches in the competition this season. Mason also grabbed his first United brace and, in doing so, the 18-year-old became the youngest player to score two in a European game for the Reds. It wasn’t just in front of goal where the forward excelled: his trickery and turn of pace also drew a penalty at the expense of Jordy Clasie in the 61st minute. It was an all-round excellent showing from our no.26 and, unsurprisingly, he was voted the Man of the Match by our Official App users.
The Reds once again shut the opposition out in the Europa League, meaning we’ve kept five clean sheets from our six games in the tournament this year. It also means Sergio Romero has not conceded in his four European appearances in 2019/20, and only two goals have been put past United in this season’s competition.
Ethan Laird made his first-team debut in the last Europa League clash – away to Astana – and the youngster enjoyed another mini-milestone on Thursday, as he played his maiden game for the first team at Old Trafford. The full-back came on for Young with 22 minutes remaining and looked comfortable in front of the big crowd, posing a real threat going forward.
READY FOR SUNDAY
The comfortable scoreline afforded Ole the opportunity to withdraw three players in the second half, ahead of a big Premier League clash this weekend against Everton. The boss substituted Anthony Martial, Harry Maguire and Young in the second half, and all three headed straight down the tunnel, presumably for some recovery work. The boss had made nine changes to his starting XI, meaning that the majority of our team should be fresh for the upcoming meeting with the Toffees.
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