Manchester United 3-0 Partizan Belgrade: Martial and Rashford on target as Red Devils seal progression

By Sports Desk November 07, 2019

Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford were on target as Manchester United ensured their place in the Europa League knockout stages with a convincing 3-0 win over Partizan Belgrade.

Knowing a win would be enough to see them through - courtesy of a better head-to-head record against Partizan in Group L - United wasted little time in asserting their authority, with Mason Greenwood capping a dominant start in the 21st minute.

Martial added a magnificent second soon after, with Rashford, who had been wasteful in the first half, making it 3-0 shortly after the restart as United cruised into the round of 32 with two matches to spare.

Martial and Partizan's Umar Sadiq both had goals disallowed for offside in the opening five minutes, before Rashford drilled wide from 10 yards out.

Rashford had another opportunity three minutes later, only for Vladimir Stojkovic to rush out and deny the England forward, but Greenwood made no such mistake.

Having benefitted from some dreadful Partizan marking, Greenwood kept his cool to slot beyond Stojkovic after setting himself from Rashford's neat pass.

United were two ahead just after the half hour - Martial prodding in an excellent finish after driving through Partizan's defence with some sublime footwork.

Rashford finally found his shooting boots after the restart, slamming home a brilliant first-time finish from Ashley Young's cushioned touch.

Young almost went from provider to scorer with a terrific free-kick moments later, his strike glancing the side netting before Fred drew a fine stop out of Stojkovic.

A fine night for United was blemished with 15 minutes remaining - Scott McTominay forced off through injury - but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side will be able to reflect on a job well done at Old Trafford.

 

What does it mean? United finally making life easier for themselves

It has been a hard slog of a campaign so far for Solskjaer, whose side had appeared to turn a corner prior to their defeat at Bournemouth last time out. 

However, with progression in this competition secured, United can at least now switch their full focus to correcting their dismal league form.

United's vibrant attack come good

It was an ideal night for United's strikers, with all three of them getting in on the act. While starting both of his first-choice forwards in the form of Rashford and Martial may have been a risk, it paid off for Solskjaer, while Greenwood - who became the youngest player to score and assist in a single European game for the Red Devils - continued his impressive start to life in United's first team.

McTominay's fitness a cause for concern

McTominay has been one of United's most consistent performers so far this term, but after a robust challenge from Aleksandar Scekic, the Scotland international was unable to continue and could now be a doubt for Sunday's clash with Brighton and Hove Albion.

What's next?

United host Brighton the Premier League on Sunday, while Partizan are in action against Indija in the Serbian top flight.

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    Jamie Vardy will be remembered as Leicester City's greatest ever player, according to his former team-mate Andy King.

    Vardy's goals fired Leicester to an unforgettable Premier League title triumph in 2015-16, when he was named the FWA Footballer of the Year and went on to play and score for England at Euro 2016.

    While the likes of Riyad Mahrez and N'Golo Kante went on to seek pastures new, Vardy remained as the Foxes' talisman and on Saturday added the club's first FA Cup to their maiden top-flight title when Youri Tielemans' thunderbolt sunk Chelsea 1-0 at Wembley.

    The 34-year-old's fairy tale ascent from non-league football has been well documented and, with 116 goals, he lies 19th on the Premier League's all-time goalscorers list.

    Vardy will have his eye on climbing a few more places yet, as he is under contract to Leicester until 2023. When the time comes for him to move on, Wales international King believes there will be a virtually impossible void to fill.

    "Everyone wants to know what the secret is or what he's like," King told Stats Perform.

    "But he has no secret over things which he does. You guys know that because he's been telling everyone he drinks his coffee, drinks his Red Bull, he eats what he wants and then he goes out and scores two goals and runs around like a madman.

    "What you see is what you get with him. Like with Wes [Morgan] and Kasper [Schmeichel], first and foremost he has great affection for the club, the people at the club and the owner.

    "He's such a good guy to have in the changing room and to have off the pitch as well.

    "The hole is going to be massive when he leaves Leicester. I think he's Leicester's best ever player. And that's before adding another trophy to the collection.

    "He'll be a hard one to try replace when Leicester have to do that at some point."

    On the other hand, Vardy's goalscoring mantle has arguably already passed, with the veteran playing a supporting role to the prolific Kelechi Iheanacho.

    Vardy's 13 goals in the Premier League this term represent a joint-lowest return since he hit the same number in 2016-17, comfortably below the 23 he netted to win the Golden Boot last term.

    But his nine assists represent a career best in the competition, matching his total from the past two years combined.

    This can, in part, be attributed to a slightly altered role supporting Iheanacho in a 3-5-2 system - their lethal striker partnership taking Leicester to the brink of Champions League qualification, which can be secured in Tuesday's rematch with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

    The former Manchester City striker scored 20 times in all competitions across his previous three seasons at the King Power Stadium but he has exploded into life this time around, with 18 to his name.

    Thirteen of those have come in his past 13 matches and King believes the 24-year-old's patience over the course of a lengthy acclimatisation process has been rewarded with more than just a new contract until 2024.

    "When he first came in, he was in and out of the team," he said. "It must be hard adapting from Man City to go into another team where you're not going to get the chances laid on a plate for you and you're not going to have the ball for 80 per cent of the game. You've got to learn to do the other stuff as well.

    "Kel was a really honest guy, he was trying really hard to learn the system. To start with, Leicester played a 4-3-3 with only one striker and Vards is always going to play.

    "They changed the system when Harvey Barnes got injured, which was a big loss because he was playing really well. I don't know if Brendan said to him, 'Look, I'm going to go to a 3-5-2 and you're going to be my second striker, you know you're going to play'.

    "If that was the case, he certainly rewarded the manager because for the second half of the season he has been absolutely outstanding. He's carrying Leicester at a moment to the top four, scoring goals when no one else was and his all-round play has always been good.

    "Like, anyone when they're playing with confidence and knowing they're going to play the next game, it all falls into place. Strikers go on a hot streak and he's certainly on one of those at the moment."

  • Tielemans tipped to sign new Leicester contract by King after stunning FA Cup final winner Tielemans tipped to sign new Leicester contract by King after stunning FA Cup final winner

    Youri Tielemans has been tipped to sign a new contract at Leicester City by Andy King after writing his name in the club's folklore with his stunning FA Cup final winner.

    The Belgium international scored the only goal of Saturday's showdown with Chelsea in front of 21,000 supporters with a right-foot drive into the top-left corner from 25 yards.

    Leicester survived a nervy finale to win their first ever FA Cup at the fifth attempt, making it one of the most famous days in the Foxes' history.

    Match-winner Tielemans - the third Belgian to score in the showpiece after Eden Hazard in 2018 and Kevin de Bruyne a year later - was rightly acclaimed after the match.

    The 24-year-old has impressed throughout the season for Leicester, who will now switch focus to trying to nail down a top-four finish and Champions League football when they face Chelsea again on Tuesday.

    Despite rumoured interest from other Premier League heavyweights, former Leicester midfielder King believes Tielemans can achieve all his career aims by staying on at the King Power Stadium.

    "It's important Leicester keep him. Only he will be able to tell you whether it's going to be difficult to keep him because you never know what certain players' ambitions are, but days like Saturday certainly help," King told Stats Perform.

    "He knows he can win trophies at Leicester and he knows he can play in the Champions League - that's what all the top players want.

    "So, you never know, especially with players who aren't from the UK, if they want to play in another country or try something new.

    "But from what I've heard, read and seen, he is really, really happy here, so I wouldn't be surprised to see him sign some sort of new contract in the not-too-distant future. I'm not saying I know he's doing it, but it just seems the right fit.

    "He's probably been Leicester's Player of the Season this year – he has been absolutely outstanding. He's got everything, and for someone so young to score the match-winning goal in an FA Cup final is amazing."

    That stunning Wembley strike took Tielemans' goal tally for the season to nine in all competitions – six of those in the Premier League – and he has also chipped in with four assists.

    The former Monaco midfielder, who has two years to run on his existing deal, is third behind Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (2,615) and Rodri (2,683) for passes attempted among Premier League midfielders this term with 2,355.

    He also ranks ninth in the division for tackles by midfielders (74), joint-10th for tackles won (39) and joint-11th in terms of chances created (44), underlining his all-round ability in the middle of the park.

    Manager Brendan Rodgers has been credited with getting the most out of Tielemans, who arrived for a reported club-record fee of £40million in July 2019, and King feels the former Liverpool boss can also play a part in keeping the player at the club.

    "He really likes the manager," said King, who won the League One, Championship and Premier League titles during his time with the Foxes. "The manager really likes him as well and he's now playing the best football of his career.

    "He's just won a trophy and [can still get] into the Champions League, so I don't think he will be in any sort of rush to get out of the situation he's in at the moment.

    "The way Leicester are going now, with one of the best training grounds in Europe, plans to extend the stadium, he's going to enjoy all that. 

    "He's young and has plenty of years ahead of him, so hopefully he can sign that new contract and carry on playing the way he is."

    While Tielemans' strike will long live in the memory of Leicester supporters, goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel also cemented his status as one of the Foxes' all-time greats with some big saves against Chelsea.

    Schmeichel turned Ben Chilwell's header on to the post and then somehow kept out Mason Mount's powerful shot en route to becoming the first goalkeeper to captain the winning side in an FA Cup final since David Seaman with Arsenal in 2003.

    "Kasper is someone who is made for big moments," King said of his former team-mate. "He is driven to improve himself every day and improve those around him to make sure standards don't slip.

    "He's vocal in the dressing room, and the best thing for us is that he really does love and care for the club. He cares about the owner and the supporters and will do anything to make sure Leicester win a game.

    "He thrives off the big occasion and that save off Mason Mount is world class, an unbelievable save.

    "I was sat right behind the shot, and just the sheer power on it, you think he might get a hand to it, but he's not going to be able to keep it out. He's a world-class goalkeeper."

  • Rumour Has It: Man Utd face battle for Torres, Lautaro-Inter talks begin Rumour Has It: Man Utd face battle for Torres, Lautaro-Inter talks begin

    Where will Pau Torres play next season?

    The Villarreal defender is reportedly wanted by Premier League giants Manchester United, who are set to face the LaLiga outfit in the Europa League final.

    But Napoli are also eyeing the Spain international.

     

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    Manchester United could face a battle from Napoli to sign Villarreal centre-back Pau Torres, according to Gazzetta dello Sport.

    United are looking to bolster their defence amid links to Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos and team-mate Raphael Varane, as well as Sevilla's Jules Kounde.

    Torres has emerged as a serious option, though Napoli are also reportedly interested, with star Kalidou Koulibaly's future uncertain.

     

    ROUND-UP

    - Lautaro Martinez and Inter have opened dialogue over a contract renewal, says the front page of Monday's Gazzetta dello Sport. Martinez has previously been tipped to join Barcelona, while Madrid have reportedly emerged as suitors.

    - L'Equipe claims Lyon captain Memphis Depay will complete his move to Barca in June. It comes as Barca look to seal other free-transfer details for Manchester City defender Eric Garcia and Liverpool's Georginio Wijnaldum. Barca have also been linked with Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland and City's soon-to-be free agent Sergio Aguero.

    Roma have no interest in signing Juventus goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon. The Italy great will leave Turin at the end of the season, but it will not be for the Italian capital, reports Calciomercato.

    - According to Calciomercato, Mauro Icardi has been tipped to swap Paris Saint-Germain for Juventus. With Cristiano Ronaldo and Paulo Dybala linked with Juve exits, former Inter captain Icardi could return to Italy.

    Atalanta are set to trigger their option to sign Cristian Romero from Juve, claims Fabrizio Romano. The defender has been scouted by United.

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