Although Manchester United had lost their last two home games in European competitions, United were unbeaten in their last 11 Europe League games , eventually winning the tournament the last time they competed in it (2016-17).
This time their opponents were Astana Football Club, a professional football club that play in the Kazakhstan Premier League. This is the highest level of Kazakh football and was the first ever competitive meeting between an English side and a Kazakh side. Before the match there was a sense of mystery of playing a side that had to travel 3,700 miles to be at Old Trafford. United will of course have to repay the ‘compliment’ in the coming months. It is the furthest outpost in top-level European football; a remote new city in a still-new country, and – in the familiar modern-day mould – a sporting project designed to deepen Kazakhstan’s imprint on the geopolitical map.
Onto the match, United started the game making nine changes from the Leicester game at the weekend. Academy graduates Gomes, Chong, Greenwood and Axel Tuanzebe were all in the line-up. Captain Nemanja Matic and Marcus Rashford were the only players to retain a start. Fred had last started for United in the last derby against Manchester City. He controlled the midfield quite impressively, feeding the wingers.
One can say that all the youngsters gave a good account of themselves and showed that they have a bright future at United. Not least Mason Greenwood, scorer of the goal, and described before the match by the Boss as one of the best finishers of the game.
United finally did get over the line, with Mata, Young and Lingard having being necessary to bolster the attack and get United their first points in a somewhat comfortable fashion.
Article contributed by Echoes Contributor Kenneth. Comments are appreciated on our Facebook page.
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