2019-20 UEFA Europa League, Group Stage
  • Mason Greenwood (73')

Greenwood goal earns youthful Man United win

Mason Greenwood celebrates after scoring in Manchester United's Europa League match against FK Astana. OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images

Mason Greenwood scored his first senior goal for Manchester United in a 1-0 win over Astana in Europa League Group L at Old Trafford on Thursday night.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer started a mostly young and heavily rotated side against Astana, with Tahith Chong, Angel Gomes, Axel Tuanzebe and Greenwood all getting spots in the XI. Nemanja Matic took the captain's role in the absence of Ashley Young and goalkeeper David De Gea.

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United looked dangerous from the off with Fred clattering the crossbar from distance and Marcus Rashford having a point-blank chance saved by Astana keeper Nenad Eric inside of 10 minutes.

Despite dominating possession and seeing Rashford have another excellent chance saved by Eric, Astana kept a clean sheet in the first half as the teams went to the dressing room locked in a goalless draw.

It was more of the same for United in the second half as they continued to have the majority of the ball and create chances with no end product as the match remained goalless.

Solskjaer brought on Juan Mata for Gomes and Jesse Lingard for Chong -- with both receiving a solid ovation from the home support as they left the pitch -- in search of a winner and three points to start their European campaign.

On a night when youth took center stage, it was fitting that the 17-year-old Greenwood broke the deadlock with an excellent individual effort and finish from the right side to make it 1-0.

The goal made Greenwood the youngest player ever to score for Manchester United in European competition at 17 years, 353 days, beating out the previous record-holder Rashford, who did it at 18 years, 117 days.

"We made it hard for ourselves," said Solskjaer, relieved at least to be leading Group L after Partizan Belgrade and AZ Alkmaar drew 2-2 in Serbia. "It's pleasing, though, that we got three points, got off to a decent start.

"In and around the box he [Greenwood] is one of the best finishers we've got and I'm happy he got his goal. I'm sure he'll go home tonight and be happy with that one."

Diogo Dalot should have doubled the lead just past the 80-minute mark but he somehow fired his close-range shot over the goal from a rebound after Lingard had smashed one off the post from 20 yards out.

"It was a hard game. First half we tried to open the game and to score a fast goal but they had a solid defence," Matic said. "It's good for the [young players] to have the opportunity to play these games. They have to use that, to work hard to get more chances."

Next up for United in the Europa League is an away match against AZ Alkmaar on Oct. 3, while Astana will host Partizan Belgrade on the same day.