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Dublin: 2°C Wednesday 20 January 2021


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We’re just under an hour away from kick-off, as both sides look to build on decent starts to their Europa League campaign.

Partizan and Man United have both picked up four points from their campaign after two games. They sit ahead of AZ Alkmaar (two points) and Astana (0 points) in Group L.

After a creditable 1-1 draw with Liverpool at the weekend, Man United have made a couple of changes as expected for this encounter, with 19-year-old Brandon Williams and 18-year-old James Garner handed starts in what looks like a 3-5-2 formation.

Having impressed against the Reds, it will be interesting to see whether Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men can maintain a similar level of performance in this more low-key fixture.

Confirmation of the United starting XI for this evening.

Could they end this unfortunate run tonight?

We’re under way…


serbia-soccer-europa-league Serbian riot policemen watch the tribunes before the Europa League group L match. Source: Darko Vojinovic


United have had most of the ball and the territory so far.

They’ve yet to carve out an opening, however.


Sergio Romero comes to collect an overhit through pass and slices the ball out of play awkwardly.

Not the most assured of starts for United’s second-choice goalkeeper.


Maguire is penalised for a mistimed challenge on Sadiq.

The ensuing free kick out wide picks out the same Partizan attacker, but his header is off target from a near-impossible angle.


A decent run down the left by McTominay sees his cross get cut out for a corner.

From the subsequent set piece, Maguire is penalised for tussling with Nemanja Miletić.


Chance! Mata’s inswinging free kick finds an unmarked McTominay.

The unmarked Scottish international should have done better — he can only find the side-netting with his downward header.


It’s all United at the moment.

Following a fairly stale opening few minutes, they have been starting to cause the hosts problems of late.

McTominay has looked particularly lively thus far and has involved in most of the visitors’ best attacking moments.


Lingard cuts the ball across to McTominay, whose shot from the edge of the area goes a few inches wide.

United are lacking cutting edge in the final third so far, and it’s easy to see why they have only managed one goal in this year’s competition to date.


As unthreatening as United look currently, Partizan have been even more toothless.

Sadiq has just failed to control a ball up to him, as another attack breaks down prematurely.


Soumah tries to play through Asano, but his pass is intercepted.

Partizan are coming into it slightly more now.


serbia-soccer-europa-league Partizan's Takuma Asano, left, challenges for the ball with Manchester United's James Garner. Source: Darko Vojinovic


Soumah dribbles past Mata on the left-hand side of the box, but his cross is cut out by Williams.

Partizan are growing into this game, after an unconvincing start in which they largely sat off United.


Zoran Tošić, the former Man United youngster, fires a shot narrowly wide from the edge of the area.

What a story it would be if the 32-year-old attacking midfielder could play a part in his former team’s downfall.


The ball breaks favourably to Lingard, and his stabbed shot from the edge of the area comes back off the post.

That’s the closest either team has come to scoring.


It’s now Partizan’s turn to hit the woodwork.

Sadiq, who hasn’t had the best of games up until now, wriggles through one or two United bodies, before producing a spectacular curling effort from about 30 yards out that hits the post.

Moments later, Partizan break again, and Asano sliding shot goes just wide.


It’s the 19-year-old Williams who wins the penalty. He pushes the ball ahead of Miletić, who ill-advisedly goes to ground and takes down the player in the process.

Martial sends Stojković the wrong way from the subsequent penalty.


So that’s that.

After a dour opening, the match improved as it wore on.

Both sides went close, with Lingard and Sadiq hitting the woodwork within a matter of moments.

The more open the game became though, the better it suited United’s pacy counter-attack and they punished the hosts shortly before half-time, with youngster Brandon Williams deserving much of the credit for winning penalty that Martial coolly slotted home.

The lead is probably just about deserved on the basis of that first half, though Partizan have had their moments.

serbia-soccer-europa-league Manchester United's Harry Maguire challenges for the ball with Partizan's Umar Sadiq. Source: Darko Vojinovic



The second half has begun…


Good start to the half from Partizan.

They counter straight away. Sadiq gets past Maguire, charging through on goal before being taken down by Jones.

Natcho’s low free kick is then curled just wide.


Soumah goes down under a challenge from Jones in the box, but the referee opts against giving a penalty.

It looks a solid decision judging by the replay — Jones was just too strong for the Partizan attacker, who went down rather easily.


Partizan go close again!

Soumah goes past Harry Maguire, but his low shot is tame enough, enabling Romero to make a comfortable save.


Soumah continues to cause United trouble.

He gets away from Maguire again, before Sadiq takes the ball off him and sees his low shot blocked.


United have been under the cosh quite a bit in this second half.

That said, the likes of Martial are likely to get more space to exploit in behind the Partizan defence.


United make a double change.

Rashford and James are on in place of Wan-Bissaka and Martial.

Looks like they’re switching to a back four now, with Phil Jones slotting in at right back.


United already look more threatening with James and Rashford on the pitch.

Their movement and energy has been good, giving the hosts more problems to think about.


Two appeals for handball in quick succession, with both ignored and two Partizan players booked for their protests as a result.

Only one of the incidents has been replayed, but the second one appeared to come off Williams’ hand, though it happened so quickly with ball and hand in close proximity that it was hardly intentional.


Asano gets the ball in a promising position out wide, but ends up dribbling it out of play.

Partizan have been the better team in this second half, but they have been nowhere near clinical enough in the final third.

As I type, Sadiq flashes another audacious effort narrowly wide.


Partizan make a change.

Tosic is replaced by 17-year-old Serbia U19 international Filip Stevanović.


Sadiq plays in a menacing cross, but Jones does very well to get in front of Asano and make a good clearance.

It’s been a decent performance overall by United from a defensive perspective.


United make another change. Pereira replaces James Garner.

The 18-year-old will have been delighted to get so many first-team minutes under his belt.


A corner finds Asano, whose header on the turn forces a decent save from Romero.

Meanwhile, Partizan bring on another 17-year-old – Lazar Pavlović replaces Soumah.


A corner falls to Natcho on the edge of the area.

The midfielder’s curled attempt shaves the top of the crossbar.


Pavlović finds himself in a good position on the right-hand side of the box, but Maguire is well positioned to make the clearance.

There will be three minutes of stoppage time.


So that’s that.

Man United win with their only shot on target — a penalty.

It’s a positive result for the Red Devils, though it was far from a pretty watch.

They defended well, but might be somewhat concerned by their attacking performance, with just two goals in three Europa League games now.

Partizan had their moments and were the better side in the second half, but lacked the ruthlessness required at this level.

Solskjaer will be at least pleased at being able to give teenagers Brandon Williams and James Garner a run out.

Right, that’s all from me.

Thanks for reading and commenting.

You can read our match report here and we’ll have more reaction to follow.

On the latest episode of The42 Rugby Weekly, Andy Dunne tells Murray Kinsella and Gavan Casey about where it all went wrong for Joe Schmidt’s Ireland

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Paul Fennessy


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