Partizan Belgrade 0-1 Manchester United: Martial penalty ends miserable away run

By Sports Desk October 24, 2019

Manchester United finally enjoyed away-day success as Anthony Martial's 43rd-minute penalty earned an unconvincing 1-0 win over Partizan Belgrade, lifting Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men to the top of Group L in the Europa League.

Prior to Thursday's contest in Serbia, United had gone 11 matches without an away win in all competitions - their worst such run in 40 years - since beating Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League back in March.

Yet the Red Devils' travelling support were finally given reason to celebrate again as a spot-kick from Martial - making his first start since August 24 following injury - was complemented by the club's third clean sheet in as many Europa League matches this term.

United's overall performance was far from impressive and a lack of creativity was again apparent as a side showing seven changes from Sunday's encouraging 1-1 draw with Liverpool failed to muster a single shot on target besides Martial's penalty.

However, the result will at least please Solskjaer as the 2016-17 Europa League winners are firmly on course to reach the knockout stages having claimed seven points from three games.

The only clear-cut chance of a turgid opening half-hour, in which United dominated possession, saw Scott McTominay wastefully head wide at the far post from Juan Mata's inviting 15th-minute free-kick.

A brief spell of Partizan pressure heralded a significant rise in entertainment value, with the fit-again Jesse Lingard and Umar Sadiq each striking the post in quick succession.

Martial then calmly sent Vladimir Stojkovic the wrong way from 12 yards, after Brandon Williams' surging run into the hosts' box had drawn a clear foul from Nemanja Miletic.

United were pegged back for much of the second half, though, and had to survive a succession of penalty appeals from Partizan, the most convincing arriving in the 67th minute when Miletic's back-post header appeared to strike the arm of Williams.

A furious Miletic was booked for his protests after the referee refused to point to the spot and the hosts' pressure continued to go unrewarded, with Sergio Romero saving sharply from Takuma Asano late on.

Related items

  • Rennes 1-2 Chelsea: Giroud books last-16 spot for Blues with late header Rennes 1-2 Chelsea: Giroud books last-16 spot for Blues with late header

    Olivier Giroud powered in a stoppage-time header as Chelsea beat Rennes 2-1 to book a place in the last 16 of the Champions League with two games to spare.

    Frank Lampard's side won the reverse fixture 3-0 earlier this month but they were made to work a lot harder for Tuesday's victory - their sixth in a row in all competitions.

    Serhou Guirassy looked to have rescued a point for Rennes when he cancelled out Callum Hudson-Odoi's first-half opener in the 85th minute at Roazhon Park.

    But second-half substitute Giroud won it in added time to ensure Chelsea will progress from Group E along with Sevilla.

  • Cavani handed first start as Greenwood returns to Man Utd squad Cavani handed first start as Greenwood returns to Man Utd squad

    Edinson Cavani was handed his first start for Manchester United for Tuesday's Champions League clash with Istanbul Basaksehir.

    The experienced Uruguayan striker was named at the spearhead of an attack that also included Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.

    Teenager Mason Greenwood was among the substitutes, having not played since the 2-1 defeat in Turkey three weeks ago.

    Paul Pogba, who has been nursing a knock, was not included in the squad.

    Donny van de Beek was selected alongside Fred in midfield, with Alex Telles continuing at left-back for the injured Luke Shaw.

    David de Gea was chosen in goal, despite pre-match speculation suggesting Dean Henderson would be involved from the start.

    Facundo Pellistri, the 18-year-old signed from Penarol in the previous transfer window, was also among the substitutes.

    Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side went into the match as leaders of Group H, with six points from their opening three matches.

  • Modric eager to finish career at Real Madrid as he backs Zidane Modric eager to finish career at Real Madrid as he backs Zidane

    Luka Modric is eager to stay at Real Madrid beyond the expiry of his current contract and see out the rest of his career at Real Madrid despite seemingly losing his 'untouchable' status under Zinedine Zidane, whom he has defended from criticism.

    The 35-year-old Croatian will be able to discuss a free transfer away from the Santiago Bernabeu from January 1, with his deal set to run out in June.

    Modric recently dismissed the idea of returning to Tottenham – whom he left for Madrid in 2012 – at the end of the season, while the Spanish giants have reportedly delayed talks over a new deal until next year.

    The former Ballon d'Or winner remains an important player for Madrid, though he has perhaps lost a little regularity – last season he only started 22 LaLiga games, while he has been in the starting line-up just once in three Champions League matches this term.

    Modric accepts he cannot be completely sure about his future, though he seems in little doubt regarding his desire.

    When asked about the matches he has not started, Modric told reporters: "I feel good. These games you mention I didn't play in, it's the coach's decision. When I come on, I hope to help the team and do a good job."

    Regarding his future, he added: "I feel good, I feel strong, and I still have plenty of football in my legs and strengths to continue, but let's see what happens in the future.

    "A lot of people are talking and ask about my situation but let's see what happens. I'm calm. I just want to help the team like always.

    "I've said many times and I'll say it again, I'm very happy at Madrid and I'd love to end my career here, but let's see what happens.

    "Maybe you thought my answer was a bit cold because I've been asked many times and I've said the same answer many times. I feel good and I want to stay at Madrid for as long as I feel I can help the team.

    "Who wouldn't want to end their career at Real Madrid? But it depends on a lot of things. But there is no-one who'd be happier than me to continue at Real Madrid."

    Zidane's future – as it has been for much of his time back at the club – is also a little shrouded, with the Frenchman receiving criticism for Madrid's performances this season.

    Los Blancos are fourth in LaLiga after nine matches, six points behind leaders Real Sociedad with a game in hand, and are third in Champions League Group B.

    Nevertheless, Modric insists the coach has the team's backing ahead of Wednesday's trip to Inter, who are propping up the table.

    "It's not just recently we've defended the coach - we've always defended him since he came to Real Madrid," he said.

    "Every time they ask us about him, the criticism he receives, of course we're with him. We've never doubted him. We've won many things together and we hope this continues in the future.

    "It's normal we defend our coach; it's always been like that. We've won many things with him and I hope we continue to win things."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.