Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hailed Brandon Williams as "exceptional" after Manchester United's Europa League win at Partizan Belgrade, but he acknowledged the side's overall display was far from convincing.

Anthony Martial converted a 43rd-minute penalty, won by teenage wing-back Williams, as United prevailed 1-0 to end an 11-match winless away run stretching back to March.

The Red Devils now hold seven points from three games in Group L and they have yet to concede a goal in the Europa League this season.

Yet Martial's penalty was United's only shot on target in Belgrade and they offered virtually nothing in an attacking sense after the interval as Partizan pushed for an equaliser.

"We got a result, but of course the performance wasn't what we really hoped for," Solskjaer, who made seven changes to the team that drew 1-1 with Premier League leaders Liverpool on Sunday, told BT Sport.

"It would have been nice to have it in a more assertive way. It was won by loads of good defending in the box, but we let them come to our box too easy.

"[There were] some great blocks, some good defending in the box, another clean sheet in the tournament, which is positive, and Brandon was absolutely exceptional."

In an interview with MUTV, Solskjaer added: "In the second half, they [Partizan] made us defend too deep. I'm not happy with the defending at the front.

"That's been one of our fortes and strengths this season, [but] I thought that was non-existent second half and that needs sorting out because we don't want to be a team that is just defending inside our box."

Teenager Williams earned United's spot-kick when he surged past Nemanja Miletic and was then brought down by the Partizan full-back's desperate challenge.

However, the hosts felt they should have had a penalty of their own in the second period when a header from Miletic appeared to strike Williams on the arm, sparking furious protests from the former that resulted in a yellow card.

Williams was one of two teenagers in United's XI, with James Garner handed a first start in midfield.

"I thought Jimmy grew into the game, better and better. We gave him some difficult passes in the first half, in difficult circumstances, but he handled it well," said Solskjaer.

"Brandon, for me, was the man of the match. He was absolutely excellent and I'm so pleased."

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.

Harry Maguire is hopeful Manchester United will not have to experience a repeat of the "sickening" racist abuse that marred England's trip to Bulgaria when they visit Partizan Belgrade on Thursday.

United face Savo Milosevic's side in the Europa League after the Serbian outfit were forced to play their previous two UEFA home matches behind closed doors following "racist behaviour of supporters" when they hosted Yeni Malatyaspor in the third qualifying round.

The Group L game also follows Serbia's national team being hit with a two-game stadium ban – one suspended for 12 months – after a similar incident against Portugal in September.

Maguire played in England's 6-0 win over Bulgaria in Euro 2020 qualifying earlier this month, which was twice stopped during the first half after visiting players were subjected to racist chants.

Those stoppages formed part of UEFA's three-step protocol – whereby a match is first paused, then suspended for a period, before ultimately being abandoned on the third instance of racist abuse – but Maguire is confident the match in Belgrade will pass without any major incidents.

"We will trust UEFA to follow their protocol," he told a media conference. "Sofia was sickening and something I don't want to be part of again.

"We are confident tomorrow will be a positive atmosphere. If something does go off, we will follow the three-step protocol."

United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer echoed Maguire's sentiments and has faith that UEFA will implement their protocol should racist abuse be heard.

"In the aftermath of what happened in Bulgaria, we had a meeting with the boys and we have gone through the protocol," he said.

"I believe in the good of people and the atmosphere will be fantastic. We trust UEFA and hopefully it will be a celebration of good football."

Solskjaer also reiterated United's stance on clamping down on racist incidents involving their own supporters after one was alleged to have engaged in abuse during Sunday's 1-1 draw with Liverpool.

"I'm happy the club have identified whatever you want to call him and it's something we feel strongly about," he added. "We will stamp down as much as we can."

Paul Pogba will not be fit to face Norwich City on Sunday but David de Gea should be able to make the trip to Carrow Road, according to Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

United are in Serbia ahead of a Europa League clash with Partizan Belgrade, though neither Pogba nor De Gea are in the travelling party.

Pogba last featured at the end of September having sustained a foot injury, while De Gea has recently struggled with a groin strain.

De Gea was able to take his place in United's starting XI on Sunday in the 1-1 draw with Liverpool despite appearing to be a doubt after hurting himself on international duty.

Solskjaer is unwilling to risk the Spaniard in Belgrade, with youngster Matej Kovar joining Sergio Romero and Lee Grant as the three goalkeepers, while Pogba remains sidelined even for the weekend journey to Norfolk.

"De Gea will be ready for Sunday but we didn’t take a risk with him travelling here," Solskjaer told reporters on Wednesday.

"Paul? No," Solskjaer later added when asked if Pogba could feature against Norwich.

United head into Thursday's game at Partizan second to them in Group L by virtue of scoring fewer goals.

They have not won away from home in any competition since beating Paris Saint-Germain at the Parc des Princes in March.

Savo Milosevic has no doubts Partizan Belgrade's Europa League clash with Manchester United will be a "celebration of football" after a two-match stadium ban for racist behaviour.

A bumper crowd is expected for the Group L match against the Red Devils, with Partizan forced to play their previous two UEFA home matches behind closed doors following "racist behaviour of supporters" when they hosted Yeni Malatyaspor in the third qualifying round.

The fixture comes in the wake of Serbia's national team being hit with a two-game stadium ban, albeit one is suspended for 12 months, following a similar incident during a Euro 2020 qualifying defeat to Portugal in September.

United stars Marcus Rashford and Harry Maguire also played in England's 6-0 win at Bulgaria, which was marred by high-profile incidents of racism from home supporters in Sofia.

Partizan coach Milosevic, though, does not expect there to be any issues for Thursday's match.

Speaking at a media conference, he said: "First of all, I expect everything to be fair and in the spirit of the sport.

"We know of our supporters, we are aware of the importance of the game and we are also aware of the problems we have had in the past.

"But tomorrow [Thursday] will once again be a celebration of football, so I don't expect any problems in that regard.

"We all know how important the support from the home fans can be."

Milosevic played against the great United sides of the 1990s having represented Aston Villa between 1995 and 1998.

The Red Devils class of today is languishing in 14th after nine games in the Premier League this term, but Milosevic is backing United to challenge at the top again in the future.

"It's impossible for one club to be always on the top level," he added.

"In my epoch, United were one of the best teams in the world with Alex Ferguson. They practically won everything possible and it's difficult to stay on that level always.

"But Manchester United is definitely in the top three biggest clubs in the world, even today.

"They have some difficulties, but it is also normal to have these difficulties, especially after the epoch of one man [Ferguson] who was there for more than 30 years [26 years]. It's difficult to find someone similar.

"It's still one of the biggest teams in England, in Europe and they definitely possess quality and I am certain that in the future, all of Europe will see how good they are.

"They have some extraordinary young players and it's a question of time for them to become key players and to lead United forward."

Paul Pogba and David de Gea will not be involved for Manchester United against Partizan Belgrade in the Europa League, but Jesse Lingard is back in the fold.

Neither Pogba nor De Gea took part in the Red Devils' training session at Carrington on Wednesday and both were missing from the squad list travelling to Serbia.

Pogba has been absent since September 30 due to a toe injury but reports suggested he may have played a part in the fixture, while Spain goalkeeper De Gea featured in Sunday's 1-1 draw with Liverpool despite having sustained a groin injury on international duty.

Axel Tuanzebe, Luke Shaw and Nemanja Matic also miss the trip for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side, but there is better news over Lingard.

The England international injured his hamstring in United's previous Europa League outing, which ended in a goalless draw at AZ on October 3.

United are second in Group L with four points from two matches.

 

Squad in full: Sergio Romero, Lee Grant, Matej Kovar; Phil Jones, Ethan Laird, Victor Lindelof, Harry Maguire, Marcos Rojo, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Brandon Williams; Fred, James Garner, Daniel James, Jesse Lingard, Scott McTominay, Juan Mata, Andreas Pereira; Mason Greenwood, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford.

Paul Pogba and David de Gea missed training on Wednesday ahead of Manchester United's trip to Partizan Belgrade in the Europa League.

Pogba has not played since September 30 due to a toe injury but there had been suggestions he could be fit for the clash in Serbia.

De Gea starred in United's 1-1 Premier League draw with leaders Liverpool on Sunday but failed to appear for the open section of training at Carrington.

Luke Shaw, Nemanja Matic, Diogo Dalot and Axel Tuanzebe were also absent but there was some better news for boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with Jesse Lingard making an appearance following a spell on the sidelines due to a hamstring problem.

United lie second in Group L, level on points with Partizan, after a win over Astana and a draw with AZ Alkmaar.

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