Ole Gunnar Solskjaer felt a lack of experience cost his youthful Manchester United side in the 2-1 defeat to Astana but found plenty of cause for optimism.

Jesse Lingard captained a starting XI featuring three full debutants and seven teenagers and gave United a 1-0 lead, with their progress from Europa League Group L already assured.

Dmitriy Shomko equalised after a dreadful miss from United midfielder Tahith Chong and one of the visiting players making his senior bow, Di'Shon Bernard, was unfortunate to put through his own goal and hand Roman Grygorchuk's men the points.

"The performance was very good. At times we were excellent and for short spells we let them push us back, which cost us in the end," Solskjaer told MUTV, having also introduced D'Mani Bughail-Mellor, Ethan Galbraith and Largie Ramazani to first-team action from the bench.

"For a 10-minute spell in the second half I felt you could see they were growing in the game. That's where you want these boys to learn from this.

"Maybe stay down for two minutes or get organised. But we had chances ourselves and there were some excellent, excellent debuts.

"You've got to put them on the pitch before you know they're good enough. The full debuts today from, Di'Shon, Ethan Laird and for Dylan Levitt were excellent."

The Old Trafford boss expressed particular sympathy for 19-year-old centre-back Bernard.

"That's the only time he put a foot wrong – he didn't even put a foot wrong, sometimes that happens in football. I thought he was excellent," he said.

"These boys have given me food for thought and I'm very pleased with many of them.

"It's a very, very tight-knit group and it's been excellent. I'm just sorry they didn't go away from here with a win because I thought they deserved to win the game."

United will qualify as group winners if they avoid defeat in their final group game against AZ next month.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer selected seven teenagers and three full debutants in his Manchester United starting XI for Thursday's 2-1 Europa League defeat to Astana in Nur-Sultan.

Jesse Lingard was named captain and gave United a 10th-minute lead, but that impressive opening to the contest crumbled after half-time.

Dmitry Shomko equalised in the 55th minute before the unfortunate Di'Shon Bernard put through his own goal.

Teenage prospects D'Mani Bughail-Mellor, Largie Ramazani and Ethan Galbraith also came off the bench for United, who have already qualified for the knockout stages. Here, we run the rule over the seven starters under 20.

Di'Shon Bernard

Formerly of Chelsea's youth set-up, Bernard's senior debut will unfortunately be remembered for the decisive moment where he diverted Antonio Rukavina's cross beyond veteran goalkeeper Lee Grant.

He had acquitted himself well enough until that point, appearing assured under Astana's set-piece assault early in the second half. No United player made more than Bernard's five clearances and two interceptions.

Ethan Laird

A mixed outing for the right-back, who added penetration to the United attack but struggled at times defensively – most notably when Shomko's equaliser came down his channel.

Tahith Chong

Chong's wretched miss with the goal at his mercy in the 54th minute was fairly inexplicable. That chip over from six yards after Angel Gomes and Luke Shaw opened up Astana was compounded because the hosts equalised within a minute.

However, it should not be forgotten that Chong's all-action opening to the contest, where he broke up play and drove United forward, was a key ingredient in them enjoying the better of the first half.

Angel Gomes

Bright, inventive and always United's most likely creative spark. Gomes jinked in from the left with intent, having an early shot blocked and showing an eye for effective link-up play with Mason Greenwood.

Rukavina streaking clear down the United left to craft the winning goal did not speak well of Gomes' defensive awareness, but his three key passes were more than any United attacker and he almost stole a point with a sumptuous 78th-minute free-kick.

James Garner

Showed a shrewd eye for a pass during the initial exchanges, breaking lines with a creativity Solskjaer's more experienced pros too frequently lack. Garner's influence waned during the second half but he completed 82 of 84 passes before making way for Ramazani in the 84th minute.

Dylan Levitt

The Wales Under-21 international arguable edged out Gomes as the most impressive United youngster on show. Silky and effortless in possession at times, Levitt oozed class and racked up 104 passes. He found a team-mate with 94.8 per cent of those.

Mason Greenwood

A comedown from the high of his maiden Premier League goal during the undulating 3-3 draw at Sheffield United last weekend. Greenwood, comfortable with either foot, presents an obvious threat to any defence, but his timing was slightly off here, as evidenced by him being flagged offside on three occasions.

Astana came from behind to beat Manchester United 2-1 in Nur-Sultan as a dream outing for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's youngsters turned sour.

With qualification from Europa League Group L already secured, Solskjaer took the opportunity to field an entirely changed XI from the 3-3 draw at Sheffield United featuring seven teenagers.

Jesse Lingard took the captain's armband and gave United an early lead but the contest turned against the Premier League club after a horror miss from Tahith Chong in the 54th minute.

Left-back Dmitriy Shomko levelled less than a minute later and Di'Shon Bernard, one of three full debutants, put decisively through his own goal in the 62nd minute – sealing a famous win for the already-eliminated Kazakh champions.

United's youngsters began brightly but it was two of the older heads who combined for the breakthrough after 10 minutes – Luke Shaw cutting in from the left to feed Lingard, whose strike from 20 yards took a slight deflection to nestle in the far corner.

Astana should have equalised in the 22nd minute when Abzal Beysebekov's clever diagonal pass caught Shaw napping and Dorin Rotariu shot wastefully wide.

United then picked their opponents apart 10 minutes into the second half, with Shaw and Angel Gomes exchanging passes before Chong chipped over with the goal at his mercy.

And Chong paid for his wastefulness instantly when Shomko fired an unerring finish across Lee Grant into the bottom-right corner from Roman Murtazayev's pass.

A quickfire turnaround was achieved in the space of seven minutes after Antonio Rukavina raided unchecked down the United left and the unfortunate Bernard diverted the cross past Grant.

Runar Mar Sigurjonsson fizzed a half-volley wide as Solskjaer's side were almost picked off on the counter-attack in the 73rd minute.

United found a second wind and Astana needed heroics from goalkeeper Nenad Eric to repel a Gomes free-kick and deny Mason Greenwood from close range.

What does it mean? Encouraging glimpse of the future gives Solskjaer a problem

Before a lack of experience caught up with them after the break, United's youthful starting XI acquitted themselves very well. The rate at which Solskjaer gives these players further first-team opportunities will be intriguing as he is faced with a balancing act.

Throwing too many into a misfiring side would be unhelpful, but the sight of Gomes cleverly and inventively buzzing around the final third was a reminder of the creativity those more experienced professionals at Old Trafford too frequently fail to provide.

Lingard back on the goal trail

Handed the honour of captaining his boyhood club, Lingard led by example and deserved his first-half goal. That it was only his second strike of 2019 and first since January does much to explain why he has dropped out of the England reckoning. For a player who should be entering his prime as he turns 27 next month, this was hopefully a step in the right direction.

All goes wrong after Chong miss

The imposing midfielder was one of the key elements in United's impressive start, driving the visitors onto the front foot. But Chong's failure to make it 2-0 was a wretched and a highly costly error he is likely to stew on for some time.

What's next

A more familiar United line-up will host Aston Villa on Sunday at the start of a crunch seven days that includes Jose Mourinho's return to Old Trafford with Tottenham before the Manchester derby at the Etihad Stadium. The conclusion of Astana's domestic campaign means they are next in action when they wrap up the Europa League group stage at Partizan Belgrade next month.

Astana came from behind to beat Manchester United 2-1 in Nur-Sultan as a dream outing for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's youngsters turned sour.

With qualification from Europa League Group L already secured, Solskjaer took the opportunity to field an entirely changed XI from the 3-3 draw at Sheffield United featuring seven teenagers.

Jesse Lingard took the captain's armband and gave United an early lead but the contest turned against the Premier League club after a horror miss from Tahith Chong in the 54th minute.

Left-back Dmitriy Shomko levelled less than a minute later and Di'Shon Bernard, one of three full debutants, put decisively through his own goal in the 62nd minute – sealing a famous win for the already-eliminated Kazakh champions.

United's youngsters began brightly but it was two of the older heads who combined for the breakthrough after 10 minutes – Luke Shaw cutting in from the left to feed Lingard, whose strike from 20 yards took a slight deflection to nestle in the far corner.

Astana should have equalised in the 22nd minute when Abzal Beysebekov's clever diagonal pass caught Shaw napping and Dorin Rotariu shot wastefully wide.

United then picked their opponents apart 10 minutes into the second half, with Shaw and Angel Gomes exchanging passes before Chong chipped over with the goal at his mercy.

And Chong paid for his wastefulness instantly when Shomko fired an unerring finish across Lee Grant into the bottom-right corner from Roman Murtazayev's pass.

A quickfire turnaround was achieved in the space of seven minutes after Antonio Rukavina raided unchecked down the United left and the unfortunate Bernard diverted the cross past Grant.

Runar Mar Sigurjonsson fizzed a half-volley wide as Solskjaer's side were almost picked off on the counter-attack in the 73rd minute.

United found a second wind and Astana needed heroics from goalkeeper Nenad Eric to repel a Gomes free-kick and deny Mason Greenwood from close range.

What does it mean? Encouraging glimpse of the future gives Solskjaer a problem

Before a lack of experience caught up with them after the break, United's youthful starting XI acquitted themselves very well. The rate at which Solskjaer gives these players further first-team opportunities will be intriguing as he is faced with a balancing act.

Throwing too many into a misfiring side would be unhelpful, but the sight of Gomes cleverly and inventively buzzing around the final third was a reminder of the creativity those more experienced professionals at Old Trafford too frequently fail to provide.

Lingard back on the goal trail

Handed the honour of captaining his boyhood club, Lingard led by example and deserved his first-half goal. That it was only his second strike of 2019 and first since January does much to explain why he has dropped out of the England reckoning. For a player who should be entering his prime as he turns 27 next month, this was hopefully a step in the right direction.

All goes wrong after Chong miss

The imposing midfielder was one of the key elements in United's impressive start, driving the visitors onto the front foot. But Chong's failure to make it 2-0 was a wretched and a highly costly error he is likely to stew on for some time.

What's next

A more familiar United line-up will host Aston Villa on Sunday at the start of a crunch seven days that includes Jose Mourinho's return to Old Trafford with Tottenham before the Manchester derby at the Etihad Stadium. The conclusion of Astana's domestic campaign means they are next in action when they wrap up the Europa League group stage at Partizan Belgrade next month.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has changed his entire Manchester United XI for the trip to Astana, naming seven teenagers from the start in the Europa League.

United drew 3-3 at Sheffield United on Sunday, but none of the players in the line-up at Bramall Lane even made the matchday squad on Thursday.

Ethan Laird, 18, Di'Shon Bernard, 19, and Dylan Levitt, 19, were all handed full senior debuts as expected.

United have also called on James Garner, 18, Tahith Chong, 19, Angel Gomes, 19, and Mason Greenwood, 18.

Axel Tuanzebe, stand-in captain Jesse Lingard and Greenwood all came off the bench against Sheffield United and are promoted into the starting XI, while Luke Shaw plays for the first time since August.

The Red Devils have not named as many teenagers in an XI since Opta records began.

The next-most saw five United players under the age of 20 in the team against Burton Albion in the EFL Cup in 2005.

With an average age of 22 years and 26 days, United's team is the youngest they have ever named for a match in major European competition, excluding qualifiers.

As Solskjaer revealed earlier in the week, there would be further debuts from the bench, with each of the seven substitutes academy players.

Max Taylor was among them a little over a year after he was diagnosed with testicular cancer.

United have already secured their place in the Europa League last 32 but can clinch top spot in Group L if they win and AZ, playing Partizan Belgrade, do not.

Jesse Lingard described it as a "massive honour" to learn he will captain Manchester United in the Europa League match against Astana.

With qualification to the knockout rounds already secure, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has taken a team of mostly Under-23 and Under-18 players to Kazakhstan for Thursday's match.

Lingard, Luke Shaw and Axel Tuanzebe are set to be given much-needed minutes following struggles for form and fitness this season, while 36-year-old goalkeeper Lee Grant will make his first start for the club.

Solskjaer has already confirmed Di'Shon Bernard, Ethan Laird and Dylan Levitt are to make their debuts in what is expected to be a hugely inexperienced side.

Lingard is delighted to be given the chance in a leadership role as United go in search of a win to keep them top of Group L.

"It's a massive honour," he told MUTV.

"I said at the start of the season that I'd like to be more of a leader-type, on and off the field, being one of the more senior players in the squad, so it's a perfect time to show that.

"It's a great honour to be captain and great to be leading the lads. I know them inside-out. They train with us pretty much every day, so you see the talent every day.

"I know we've qualified but the mentality is to win the game and that's how we're going to prepare for it."

Lingard has endured a difficult year in terms of form in 2019, losing his place in United's starting line-up and in the England squad and spending three weeks out with a hamstring injury.

He helped to change the game at Sheffield United last Sunday, though, making a positive impact as the visitors fought from 2-0 to draw 3-3 at Bramall Lane.

Solskjaer thinks the 26-year-old is showing signs of being back to his usual self.

"He's a very good character in this group," he told MUTV. "He's had his challenges over the last few months but he's really coming back into his own now. I feel we're getting Jesse back."

Eyebrows were raised when media reports began circulating on Tuesday claiming Manchester United were taking no fewer than 14 teenagers to Kazakhstan for their penultimate Europa League group game against Astana.

United have already secured a place in the next phase of the competition, so Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was always likely to include a few extra youngsters in the travelling party.

Nevertheless, an 18-man selection that includes only four senior players is not what most would have expected, though it does provide a little extra intrigue ahead of a game that is by no means vital.

Solskjaer confirmed in his pre-match news conference on Wednesday that Ethan Laird, Dylan Levitt and Di'Shon Bernard will all start the match.

Below, we have the lowdown on the teenage trio.

Ethan Laird, 18 – right-back

If Laird sounds familiar, that may be because Solskjaer namechecked him as early as last season, regarding him as among the club's most talented youngsters. The right-back, who is 18, has been unfortunate with injuries, but he travelled with the squad to Belgrade last month.

An athletic and technically proficient attack-minded full-back, Laird is likely to get further chances to impress this season if he continues to develop as expected, having become a key player for the Under-23s.

Dylan Levitt, 19 – central midfielder

While comparisons with Paul Scholes may be a little unfair on Levitt, it is easy to see how they started. A ball-playing midfielder, Levitt has an eye-catching style in possession and a knack of unlocking defences with disguised throughballs.

Passing is the 19-year-old's strong point and, given United's lack of depth in midfield, it is somewhat surprising Levitt is still waiting for his debut. Capped at youth level by Wales, he has even been called up to Ryan Giggs' senior squad, though a first cap has eluded him so far.

Di'Shon Bernard, 19 – centre-back

Axel Tuanzebe looks set to start at centre-back and alongside him will be Di'Shon Bernard. The 19-year-old joined from Chelsea in 2017 after a positive trial period and has progressed steadily.

He began to feature for the Under-23s in 2018-19 and is now a regular. United tied the Londoner down until 2022 earlier this year.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer confirmed he will hand first senior starts to academy trio Ethan Laird, Di'Shon Bernard and Dylan Levitt in Manchester United's Europa League clash with Astana on Thursday.

United have travelled to Kazakhstan knowing they are already assured of a place in the knockout phase of the competition, having taken 10 points from their four matches.

With the Red Devils still nine points adrift of the top four in the Premier League, Solskjaer has taken the opportunity to rest key players and thus taken an extremely young squad to Nur-Sultan.

While United have not confirmed the full squad, it has been reported 14 of the 18 are teenagers.

James Garner, Tahith Chong, Angel Gomes and Mason Greenwood have all been photographed and are expected to feature, but Solskjaer confirmed defenders Laird and Bernard along with midfielder Levitt shall all be in the starting XI, while third-choice goalkeeper Lee Grant will be between the posts.

"For me this is a game for Man United that we're looking forward to," Solskjaer told reporters on Wednesday.

"You're going to see debuts from some of the younger players. It's a fantastic opportunity for me to see them, to see them perform.

"As I said, with Lee [Grant], the most professional athlete you could see. To have Sergio [Romero] and David [De Gea] ahead of him and knowing he has two of the best goalkeepers in the world to challenge him, to give him his first start is fantastic.

"So, for me, I'm looking for to it and it's a chance to see them together.

"It will obviously be Lee's first start. You're going to see Ethan Laird, you're going to see Di'Shon Bernard and Dylan Levitt from the start.

"The subs that come on, that will be their debuts. You'll get definitely a few [debutants].

"It [the decision to take much-changed squad] is common sense. We've done great to qualify after four games, so it gives us an opportunity to give game time to the experienced lads who need it.

"Axel [Tuanzebe], Luke [Shaw], Jesse [Lingard], they've not had too many games since coming back from injuries.

"It's a great chance for me to give Lee his first start for the club, and it's hard with the young kids to give them enough games against men in professional games.

"We've got the EFL Trophy and for me this is a great chance to see them all together."

Another player United have revealed to be in the travelling party is centre-back Max Taylor, who is set for his maiden first-team involvement after undergoing cancer treatment.

Solskjaer sees the 19-year-old as an inspiration and is thrilled to give him such an opportunity.

"It's a fantastic story to see him come back," Solskjaer said. "I met Max very early after I got the job and to have seen his journey to full fitness… The way he has conducted himself, it's something he'll always have with him.

"He's been through something that no one should go through, but he's come through the other end and he's an inspiration for all the other players.

"You can see now, when he goes out onto the pitch, there is no fear in him. He's allowed to have had fear in his life, [but] when you're out on the pitch, you should enjoy yourself and I hope we can see him progress in his career. It's a chance for us to give him some extra motivation."

Manchester United continue to struggle under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but they have at least kept up a tradition of bringing through young players into the first team.

One of the latest to emerge is Max Taylor, who features among a host of youngsters called up to the squad for Thursday's Europa League match against Astana.

With qualification to the last 32 already assured, Solskjaer is expected to make changes to the team that drew 3-3 with Sheffield United last Sunday, meaning Taylor could make his first-team debut a little over a year after he was diagnosed with testicular cancer.

It would be quite some milestone for the 19-year-old, who has had a difficult year but would appear to have a promising career ahead.

LOCAL FLAVOUR

Taylor was born Max Dunne in Manchester on January 10, 2000 - the day Solskjaer was playing in a 2-0 win over South Melbourne in the Club World Cup.

After initially joining United following a trial in 2014, he was one of eight youngsters in the intake of 2016, of which he was one of two locals, alongside Salford-born Aidan Barlow.

Taylor, who adopted that surname in February this year, made his reserve-team debut ahead of schedule as a substitute against Manchester City in 2016-17 but spent most of his time with United's under-18 side.

He made 12 starts that season and then 17 appearances in all competitions in the next, winning the Under-18 Premier League North trophy.

Described by then-academy coach Kieran McKenna as a "tough, aggressive defender who is good in the air", Taylor signed his first professional United contract in January 2018, along with team-mate George Tanner.

ILLNESS AND UNDER-23S RETURN

Taylor was moved into the under-23s side, then coached by Ricky Sbragia, ahead of the 2018-19 season.

Having prepared himself for the tougher physical and tactical aspects of regular football in the higher age group, the centre-back was then presented with a far greater challenge.

After complaining of pain while sprinting and generally feeling unwell, Taylor was diagnosed with testicular cancer, which tests last October showed had spread to his lymph nodes.

Surgery was required to remove dead tissue after chemotherapy cleared the cancer cells - "quite a risky operation" as Taylor described it. Thankfully, he was given the all-clear in February.

He returned to training on September 18, telling United's website: "I feel immensely proud and happy to be back on the training pitch with my team-mates and friends. Without the invaluable support of my family, team-mates and, of course, the nurses and doctors, my return to training at this stage would not have been possible."

Just under five weeks later, Taylor was back in action for the under-23s, coming on as a substitute for Teden Mengi in a 4-1 win over Swansea City. He then got his first taste of playing at Old Trafford in a 3-0 win for the youngsters over Sunderland last Friday, with Solskjaer watching from the stands.

Speaking to MUTV this week, Taylor said of his illness: "I don't want it to define me. I'd rather it be a part of me and then whether it's my football or how I am as a person, all combines to define me. I don't want it to be a case of it's the cancer that defines me.

"Next is I'm planning to get regular football, whether it be in the under-23s or on loan or whatever. My ultimate goal is to play for the first team here."

Manchester United are offering a free flight to Astana for this month's Europa League match for fans whose travel plans were disrupted by the collapse of Thomas Cook.

The travel firm, which folded in September, were commercial partners with a number of Premier League clubs including the Red Devils.

United say Thomas Cook Sport had pre-sold some travel packages for the match with Astana in Kazakhstan on November 28, with the club taking action to offer fans alternative arrangements.

A club spokesperson said: "We have been working through a range of contingency plans to minimise the impact of the Thomas Cook situation for our supporters.

"We are pleased to be able to confirm that Manchester United will be operating a complimentary trip to the forthcoming match against FC Astana in Kazakhstan for those who were impacted by the insolvency of Thomas Cook.

"Beyond the Astana fixture, we are investigating longer-term options around facilitating European travel for our loyal fans."

United took seven points from their first three Europa League group games, beating Astana at home and Partizan Belgrade away in between a 0-0 draw at AZ.

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is hopeful the goals will soon start to flow again for Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford.

England international Rashford endured a frustrating outing in the 1-0 Europa League win over Astana on Thursday, with teenage forward Mason Greenwood on hand to bail out Solskjaer's side by opening his senior account in the 73rd minute.

Rashford's only goal from open play this season, alongside a couple of penalties, came on the opening weekend of the Premier League season against Chelsea, but Solskjaer feels the 21-year-old is close to a breakthrough.

"He's getting the chances. He could have had three [against Astana]. The keeper made a few fantastic saves," he said.

"I don't worry about that. We're working every single day in training with Marcus and he wants to improve and wants to be better.

"He could have finished once with his left foot instead of his right on Thursday. It was just one of those days. Their keeper was excellent."

There is an extra burden on the likes of Rashford and Anthony Martial this season, after United opted against replacing Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez, and Solskjaer is happy with the results so far.

"All the goals we've scored have come from our forwards, with Marcus and Anthony and Dan James. I'm sure they'll chip in with many, many goals," he said.

"Marcus is still young. He'll improve. You won't hit your peak as a striker until you're 26 or 27. He's still learning what finishes to make in different circumstances."

Solskjaer does not expect Martial and fellow France international Paul Pogba to feature in Sunday's Premier League match at West Ham.

The duo are yet to return to full training following respective thigh and ankle injuries and are sidelined alongside Luke Shaw (hamstring).

James also sat out the Astana game, having sustained a knock during last weekend's 1-0 win over Leicester City, but could return.

"He's not trained the last few days. Hopefully [he will be ready], but not sure," Solskjaer said. "We'll have a recovery day with everyone and then we'll see on Saturday."

United have not won on the road in the Premier League since February but Solskjaer insisted he has no concerns over their away form.

"I think we should have won at Southampton and Wolves. It’s still the same sized pitch – green, white lines, some fans," he said.

"You've got to block out the mental part and play the game as you do in the park."

Marcus Rashford believes Manchester United did not have this "togetherness" two years ago as praised the team's performance in their Europa League opener.

United kicked off their Group L campaign with a stuttering 1-0 victory thanks to teenage sensation Mason Greenwood at home to Astana on Thursday.

Greenwood, 17, scored his first senior goal to lead Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's United past the Kazakh visitors in Manchester.

United were far from their best as Solskjaer named a youthful XI, but Rashford was happy with what he saw at Old Trafford.

"It wasn't the best performance but there was a lot of good stuff, they're tough to break down," Rashford told reporters.

"If I look back to two years ago, I don't think the team had the togetherness to come through a game like that.

"Everyone expects it to be easy but the opposition have come to win so it's always tough."

Portuguese full-back Diogo Dalot was also in the starting line-up as United named their youngest XI in a Europa League or Champions League game since December 2012.

It was Dalot's first appearance of the season after injury postponed the start of the 20-year-old's campaign at the Theatre of Dreams.

However, it was all about team-mate Greenwood, who is set to take on more responsibility this term following the departures of Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez.

"He's been working hard," Dalot said. "Mason, [Tahith] Chong, Angel [Gomes], the kids, myself, are working hard for this moment. He helped us today and I'm so happy for his goal."

On United's young players, Dalot added: "I think this club is all about that – if you're good enough you're old enough, that's another thing we want to keep in this club. If we keep working hard, I think Ole will give us a chance."

Marcus Rashford insists there is more to Manchester United's Astana match-winner Mason Greenwood than just potential, convinced he could be important sooner than people expect.

United produced a generally lacklustre display against Astana in Thursday's Europa League opener, winning 1-0 at Old Trafford.

Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer started Greenwood, Angel Gomes and Tahith Chong in attack, with the teenagers joined by Rashford.

Greenwood got the solitary goal with a smart finish after twisting and turning in the penalty area deep into the second half, much to the relief of the home support.

It was Greenwood's first senior goal for the club, with the 17-year-old tipped for big things at United.

And Rashford is a firm believer in the youngster, adamant he is already proving to not just be a kid with "potential".

Rashford told reporters: "For me, people say potential for the future, but if they could see how hard they're working – I've seen how hard Mason works, how hard Chongy works, Angel – the future could be very close.

"All of us have to keep working hard and they'll get to where they want to be."

Greenwood has made four substitute appearances in the Premier League this term and occasionally looked somewhat nervous.

He struggled to make much of an impact in the first period on Thursday as well, but Rashford scoffed at the suggestion Greenwood may have been struggling under the pressure to deliver at such a tender age.

"I wouldn't say weight off his shoulders," Rashford said. "For kids coming through the academy, that weight doesn't exist for them, because they've learnt to deal with that all the way through their careers.

"Since being nine years old, every time they play a game against other academies, Man United is the biggest game of their season, so they put everything into those games.

"They're used to having pressure to win games, so it's not a surprise to me when the young ones come on and do well.

"Mason scored, Angel did very well, Chongy in the first half was very good, in the second he found it a little more difficult.

"Because of their work ethic, there's no doubt you'll see them again. They keep improving, since they came up to us, they're always improving.

"For me as a person being in his [Greenwood's] shoes in the past, to score that goal, I know how he feels.

"Even more importantly it was the goal that won us the game, so that's the moment everyone should be talking about.

"Mason has been doing well since joining the first team and 100 per cent there's more to come from him. I'm sure he's excited and everyone else is as well."

Mason Greenwood's emergence for Manchester United means the club made the correct decision not to replace Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku, says Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Greenwood's first senior goal earned United a 1-0 home win against Astana in their first Group L game as the Europa League got underway on Thursday.

The forward was part of a young United team, also featuring Tahith Chong and Angel Gomes, as Marcus Rashford wasted a string of first-half chances.

With 17 minutes to go, Greenwood came up with a delightful winner, with Solskjaer backing the 17-year-old to develop further in the absence of Lukaku and Sanchez.

Greenwood became the youngest European goalscorer in United history and Solskjaer indicated a new contract could be on the cards for the talented teenager.

"For me it was the right decision for the club and he's going to be important for us this season," Solskjaer told a news conference. "He's not played a lot so far, but he'll get minutes.

"We're always in talks with the boys about how we see the future and Mason's one we want to keep with us."

Greenwood was making his second start for the club, having been handed his full debut at the end of the 2018-19 Premier League season.

"If you get him inside the box you know something's going to happen," Solskjaer added of the teenager. "He can go inside or outside and it was a great finish through the keeper's legs.

"For sure it's natural for him to play football, it’s natural for him to score goals, in and around the box he knows how to hit the ball.

"Maybe he hit it too hard in the first half and maybe he should have curled it a little bit more, but he shows glimpses of what he can become."

Solskjaer, though, accepted United's overall performance was not necessarily up to scratch.

"When you don't score in the first half from four or five massive massive chances, you always wonder if it's going to be one of those nights when you get punished for being sloppy," he said.

"I didn't feel confident we'd win the game until the referee blew his whistle. We didn't play the last 10 or 15 minutes well and these boys need to learn that."

Mason Greenwood earned the praise of Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after his match-winning impact against Astana in the Europa League.

United were toiling at Old Trafford in Thursday's opening Group L Europa League clash until Greenwood produced a moment of class to win the game with 17 minutes remaining.

Collecting the ball on the left side of the penalty box, the 17-year-old Greenwood tricked his way into enough space to rifle a shot through the legs of Astana's excellent goalkeeper Nenad Eric.

Greenwood became United's youngest goalscorer in European competition having netted his first senior goal for the club on just his second start.

"He's a natural finisher, a natural footballer," Solskjaer told BT Sport.

"He enjoys playing football and can play as a number 10 or wide so I'm pleased he's got his first goal.

"We always know in and around the box he's one of our best finishers. 

"I'm happy he got his goal and he'll go home happy tonight."

Tahith Chong and Angel Gomes also started and Solskjaer indicated some of his young stars could keep their places for Sunday's Premier League trip to West Ham.

"They show it every day in training, this is why they're here and ready to play a part," he added. 

"I made it difficult by making so many changes, I have to take some blame as it's easier to come into a settled team. But still, it's a good night for us.

"We think today was a great opportunity for them, we wouldn't throw them in if they weren't ready but they need game-time so they can get rhythm. They might play at the weekend or against Rochdale [in the EFL Cup] next week. 

"You have to handle the fans to make it at Manchester United, it's not easy on a night like this. Angel did well, Chongy showed glimpses so they'll be better for it."

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