An Anthony Martial penalty in the first half was enough for Manchester United to defeat Serbian giants Partizan Belgrade 1-0 in the UEFA Europa League.
After a scrappy start, the game burst into life with Manchester United coming close through Scott McTominay and Jesse Lingard, who hit the post, while Partizan also had their chances through Takuma Asano and Umar Sadiq, who also struck the woodwork. Close to half-time, Anthony Martial handed United the lead, converting from the penalty spot after Brandon Williams was fouled in the box.
Post the break, it was one-way traffic as Partizan came at Manchester United from all sides. Sergio Romero was drawn into a save by Seydouba Soumah, while Sadiq and Bibras Natkho missed narrowly. The visitors also survived penalty claims for potential handballs in the box, while Romero denied Asano late on with an instinctive save to ensure his team bagged three points.
The victory ended Manchester United’s run of 11 games without a win away from home dating back to March. Here’s how we rated the performances of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s stars in Belgrade.
Sergio Romero: 7/10
There was a nervy moment early on, but Romero recovered well to make crucial saves to deny Soumah and Asano in the second half, with the second stop particularly standing out. A great backup goalkeeper to have in the ranks.
Phil Jones: 5/10
Starting ahead of Victor Lindelof, the England international had a decent enough first half when he looked to carry the ball forward regularly. Conceded a free-kick in a dangerous position early in the second period after fouling Sadiq, for which he was booked. Could have given away a penalty, although he did make a couple of important interventions late on.
Harry Maguire: 5/10
Captaining the Manchester United team on the night, Maguire failed to live up to the expectations as he found it hard to cope with the hosts’ attack on multiple occasions and conceded a number of clumsy fouls. One particular occasion when he was beaten all ends up by Soumah was particularly forgettable. Did make a couple of crucial clearances towards the end of the game.
Marcos Rojo: 6/10
The most composed of the Manchester United centre-backs on the night, which isn’t saying much. Rojo, in his second start of the week, also had nervy moments, but generally looked more composed and solid, while his distribution was also more on point.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka: 6/10
Defensively kept things fairly tight, but the summer signing needs to improve his forward play drastically if he is to excel as a wing-back. Had one good moment when he tackled on the edge of the Partizan box and set Lingard up for a chance, but other than that, offered little service in attack. Faded with time and was hooked off at the hour mark.
James Garner: 6/10
Making his full debut, the Manchester United academy graduate looked shaky at times, but grew into the game with time. Kept things simple and uncomplicated in the middle, while making quite a few interceptions on the night. Nothing spectacular on show, but a steady display from the youngster.
Scott McTominay: 6/10
Had the best chance of the first period and should have at least tested the goalkeeper with his header from Juan Mata’s delivery. Ran up and down the pitch, lending support on both ends, although he was guilty of trying a bit too much at times.
Brandon Williams: 7/10
Brandon Williams’ game by numbers vs. Partizan Belgrade:
83% pass accuracy
8 ball recoveries
3 fouls committed
2/3 tackles won
2 fouls suffered
1 penalty won
0 goals conceded
Professional performance. 👏👏👏 pic.twitter.com/58V1HXyilH
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) October 24, 2019
Given a start as the left wing-back, the Manchester United academy product gave a good account of himself against Partizan. Looked good each time he got forward and won the decisive penalty after a fast, direct run into the home team’s penalty box. Conceded possession at times though and could have given away a penalty in the second half. Nevertheless, an impressive display.
Juan Mata: 5/10
The Spaniard delivered a great free-kick to set McTominay up with a chance, while his pass to Williams leading to the penalty was brilliant. Apart from those two moments though, Mata wasn’t involved much and seemed to be lacking the sharpness to make things happen in the final third.
Jesse Lingard: 5/10
Back into the team after recovering from injury, Lingard had a couple of positive moments in the first half, most notably when he struck the post from the edge of the box. However, he looked rusty and petered out of the game with time.
Anthony Martial: 6/10
Making his first start since August, Martial, like Lingard, looked short on match fitness and did not have a lot of joy going up against an aggressive Partizan defence. However, he proved to be the match-winner on the night, dispatching a nerveless penalty in the first half.
Marcus Rashford: 6/10
Replaced Martial at the hour mark. Lively cameo as he looked to take on the defenders.
Daniel James: 6/10
Came on for Wan-Bissaka in the 60th minute. Like Rashford, he was lively, but could not impact the game a great deal. Was on the receiving end of a number of fouls from the hosts.
Andreas Pereira: N/A
Thrown on in place of Garner with less than ten minutes left. Helped Manchester United see off the game.