Manchester United suffered their first defeat in the Europa League this season as Astana came from a goal down to beat them 2-1 on Thursday.
Manchester United were hot off the gates and deserved the early lead when captain Jesse Lingard broke the deadlock in the 10th minute with a long-range strike. A keenly contested affair ensued thereafter, although United had the better of the chances coming their way.
The visitors should have doubled their advantage early in the second half, only for Tahith Chong to inexplicably miss an open goal from point-blank range. Mere moments later, Astana equalised through Dmitri Shomko, whose strike was quickly followed by an own goal by Di’Shon Bernard, who turned Antonio Rukavina’s cross into his own net.
Manchester United created the more meaningful chances in the final half-an-hour, but were thwarted by two wondrous saves by Nenad Eric. Despite suffering their first Europa League loss of the season, the Red Devils remained perched atop Group L and The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men.
Lee Grant: 6/10
Nearly 18 months after joining Manchester United, Grant made his first start for the club. Looked to be enjoying a straightforward full debut until Astana struck two goals in quick succession. Could not have done much to stop either strike.
Ethan Laird: 7/10
On his first appearance for Manchester United, Laird looked to be up for the task at hand pretty much from the get-go. With the visitors taking the game to Astana, Laird was a constant outlet in the final third, looking for overlapping opportunities on his bursts forward. Understandably struck by nerves at times, but defended well for the most part.
Axel Tuanzebe: 6/10
Tuanzebe was strangely one of the more experienced players in this young Manchester United side. Took to the role of being the leader at the back well, guiding Di’Shon Bernard smartly and rarely let anything past him. But, when the going got tough in the first 15 minutes of the second half, he ought to have done better to keep the defence more disciplined.
Di’Shon Bernard: 5/10
The end of the 90 minutes was a difficult pill to swallow for Bernard, as it was his own goal that condemned Manchester United to their first defeat in Europe this season. For much of the game, the youngster defended well and showed good chemistry with Tuanzebe.
However, a big deflection ended with Astana’s second, not long after he had nearly scored an own goal with a wild swipe, in what was a huge dampener on an otherwise decent performance.
Luke Shaw: 5/10
In his first outing since recovering from injury, Shaw looked purposeful going forward and provided the assist for Jesse Lingard’s goal before nearly creating another in the second half. At the back, however, the lack of sharpness was visible, as Shaw often left a lot of space in behind him and was caught out of position, including when Antonio Rukavina crossed the ball for the second goal.
Dylan Levitt: 7/10
Dylan Levitt’s Man Utd senior debut by numbers:
100% tackles completed
100 passes completed
54 accurate forward passes
30 accurate final third passes
4 ball recoveries
1 key pass
Quality on the ball. 👏👏👏 pic.twitter.com/c6iMT0mUkQ
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) November 28, 2019
Another player who made his debut for Manchester United. Levitt was, perhaps, the most impressive of those making their maiden appearance for the first-team on Thursday. In what was an all round display, Levitt won each of his tackles, made 4 recoveries, completed 100 passes and made 1 key pass as well. Could have a big future ahead of him at Manchester United.
James Garner: 7/10
That Manchester United were dominant for large parts of the game was down to just how effortlessly Garner combined with Levitt in the middle of the park. Tidy in possession, Garner completed a staggering 98 percent of his passes, misplacing just two. Looks at home in the first-team, he ought to get more chances in the weeks to come.
Tahith Chong: 4/10
Chong was one of the players who would have been eager to prove a point, especially with rumours of a summer exit doing the rounds. The Dutchman began the game strongly, looking lively in and around the Astana box.
But, he became more predictable with his movements as the game wore on. The kicker, though, was the miss from two yards out. Who knows how the final 35 minutes would have been played out had he doubled Manchester United’s lead. Inexcusable gaffe.
Jesse Lingard: 7/10
Manchester United’s skipper of the day took the added responsibility in his stride and looked to guide the youngsters around him. Led by example when he broke the deadlock early on. With a 28-game scoring drought behind him, Lingard was oozing confidence and typically worked hard off the ball. A step in the right direction for him.
Angel Gomes: 6/10
A game of hits and misses for Gomes. The diminutive midfielder showed great understanding with Mason Greenwood and was the most creative outlet for the visitors early on. However, he faded as the minutes ticked by, until late on, when Nenad Eric saved his free-kick with a stunning save.
Mason Greenwood: 6/10
Coming into the game on the back of breaking his Premier League duck, Greenwood was brimming with confidence, which was evident in his movement and the subsequent shot minutes into the game. His movement always kept the Astana defenders on their toes and he was another player who was denied by the brilliant Eric. Just wasn’t to be for him on the day.
D’Mani Bughail-Mellor: 5/10
On for the underwhelming Chong, Bughail-Mellor was a bundle of energy and looked to exploit his pace against the Astana defence. But, after a lively start, the youngster fizzled out and failed to make much of an impact.
Largie Ramazani: N/A
Introduced with six minutes left in regulation time, Ramazani could not manage to get himself in the game.
Ethan Galbraith: N/A
Had just a couple of minutes on the pitch and did not influence the proceedings.