Manchester United looked to secure their place in the Champions League knockout stages with a game to spare as they took on Young Boys at home. The home side did just that, but it wasn’t as simple as it should have been. It took 91 minutes before Mourinho’s men took the lead through Marouane Fellaini.
United Steal Three Points Late on to Qualify
The Belgian grabbed the much-needed goal that United required to secure the Last 16 spot. Luke Shaw lofted the ball to RomeluLukaku, who headed it down to Fellaini. The match winner turned and finished in style to give the home fans something to cheer.
The first 30 minutes were frustrating but positive for Manchester United, with many through balls finding their target. However, chances didn’t turn into goals, a reoccurring theme for United at home this season.
Rashford Shining Light in a Disappointing Side
Rashford came close with a lob over the goalkeeper in the fifth minute, which became the best chance of the half for a frustrated home side. Fred found Rashford well, who then looped the ball over the rushing keeper and narrowly over the bar.
The main frustration from a United perspective was Fred’s wayward passing, which led to counter attacks breaking down throughout the first half. Despite this, though, he did play some key long balls that nearly saw United take the lead on multiple occasions. Additionally, United lacked any movement from any players in the final third during the closing stages of the match. The only sign of urgency came from Luke Shaw when he took it upon himself to push Sulejmani off the pitch after he took too long.
Young Boy’s Defence Seemed Impenetrable Until the Very End
Kevin Mbabu and Sandro Lauper were the key defenders for Young Boys in the first and second half, constantly blocking and defending the runs of Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard. It looked as if they’d done enough to secure a famous point for the Swiss side.
Manchester United’s night can be summed up with the statistic that only three of their 22 shots were on target. This lack of composure in the final third raises many questions about United going forwards. Young Boys grew into the game in the second half and were unlucky to take three points. If they had more quality in their team the would have been walking away victorious.
De Gea Comes to the Rescue Once Again
David De Gea came to United’s rescue as Young Boys nearly gave the Red Devils a major shock. The ball seemed destined to go in before De Gea threw an arm at the ball. Goal line technology showed the ball was at most 5mm away from counting. De Gea proved that a vital save can be just as important as a goal as he kept his team in the game. Spectators, commentators and pundits were all shocked at how the Spaniard managed to reach the ball.
After the game, Fellaini said, “the spirit was good and we gave everything.” Phil Jones added “the match wasn’t pretty” but was happy to get a clean sheet in his first game back for a while. Manchester United qualify despite a poor performance. They will hope to take the momentum of a home win, regardless of how they achieved it, into their next league game against struggling Southampton on the weekend. Drastic improvements are needed if United are going to mount a serious challenge for the Champions League.