Manchester United suffered their first loss in the UEFA Champions League this season, as Juventus narrowly beat them 1-0 at Old Trafford on Tuesday.
Jose Mourinho named an unchanged starting eleven for the first time this season. But, Juventus were the side who were quicker off the blocks, dominating the proceedings in the early stages. And, their dominance bore fruit as Paulo Dybala handed the Bianconeri the lead, with Cristiano Ronaldo setting him up from the right flank.
Juventus continued to control the game thereafter, with Manchester United only managing to conjure up half chances at best for the rest of the first half. The game continued in a similar pattern post the interval as David de Gea kept the hosts in the game.
As the minutes passed by though, Manchester United took control of the possession, although chances still came few and far between. The closest they got to scoring came through a long range effort from Paul Pogba, when the woodwork denied the Red Devils a share of the spoils.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) October 23, 2018
In the end, Juventus held on to go five points clear at the top of Group H of the UEFA Champions League, with Manchester United placed second with four points. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Jose Mourinho’s men.
David de Gea: 8/10
A major reason why Manchester United managed to keep the score respectable. De Gea made a string of saves to keep his side in the game, most notably on the two occasions when he dived to his left to deny Blaise Matuidi and Cristiano Ronaldo in each half. Couldn’t have done anything about the goal, with Dybala shooting from point blank range.
Ashley Young: 6/10
Had a tricky job on his hands, with Ronaldo drifting wide. While Young did struggle early on, he did get the measure of the former Manchester United superstar, which forced the Portuguese to the right. Got into good areas on the opposite end of the pitch but failed to deliver in way of end product.
Chris Smalling: 7/10
Smalling cannot be faulted for the way Manchester United conceded their goal, as he successfully marked Juan Cuadrado. Apart from that moment, the Englishman was solid for the most part, dominant in the air and even made a surging run in the second half that promised much.
Victor Lindelof: 8/10
It has been a trial by fire for Lindelof this season. But, on Tuesday, he showcased just why Mourinho bought him in the first place, producing a colossal performance to back up de Gea’s heroics. The Swede was the only defender who did not commit a foul on the night.
Additionally, Lindelof also made the most clearances (5), blocks (5) and interceptions (3). Mourinho will now hope he can build on this strong showing to alleviate some of the defensive woes going forward. A performance so impressive that even Mourinho could not help but single him out for praise.
Luke Shaw: 6/10
A struggle for Shaw, who had to deal with the double threat of Cuadrado and Joao Cancelo, which almost always saw him getting sucked out of position. Going forward, the English international was somewhat one dimensional, with his end product severely found wanting against Juventus.
Nemanja Matic: 6/10
Matic’s poor run seemed to be continuing in the early exchanges as Juventus were finding it easy to overrun him in midfield. But, as time wore on, the Serb got used to the threat, dealing as well with his counterparts despite being outnumbered for the most part. Should have kept a check on Dybala when he scored the opener.
Paul Pogba: 5.5/10
More often than not, the most potent threat for Manchester United on Tuesday, Pogba was purposeful in his performance. And while he was the most creative outlet for the hosts, the Frenchman was also loose in possession at times. Still, he got the closest to getting his side back on level terms, and would rue his luck for not getting a goal.
Marcus Rashford: 4/10
Another outing which showcased just why Rashford will not succeed while playing on the right flank, a position which almost always tends to restrict him. While the Englishman was not lacking for effort, his output did leave a lot to be desired, with Alex Sandro rarely having anything to worry about. Looked much better whenever he switched flanks.
Juan Mata: 5.5/10
Alongside Pogba, Mata looked like the player who could make a telling impact with a pass that would split the Juventus defence. But, his case was not helped by the fact that the three men in front of him were frustratingly static a lot of times. Needed to do better with his delivery from set-pieces, though.
Anthony Martial: 5/10
Coming on the back of a stupendous performance against Chelsea, expectations were understandably high from Martial. But, he failed to build on his success from the weekend, in what was a very ineffective outing, despite his liveliness. An occasion wherein he put the ball out of play while dribbling without any pressure summed up a disappointing night.
Romelu Lukaku: 4/10
Juventus’s domination meant Lukaku was isolated for large parts of the match. But, when he finally got on the ball, his oft-criticised first touch let him down. Looked a little leggy at times, with the debate of his workload surfacing once again. Lukaku is finding no way out of his slump, which needs to end as soon as possible if Manchester United are to string a good run of results.