Man United fend off Europa League humiliation as Erik ten Hag fields strong squad vs. Omonia Nicosia

MANCHESTER, England -- It took Manchester United more than 90 minutes to do it, but they found a way past Omonia Nicosia in the Europa League on Thursday, winning 1-0.

- Report: Man United-Omonia Nicosia | Europa League table | Upcoming fixtures

Although manager Erik ten Hag fielded a strong lineup, it was a substitute off the bench, Scott McTominay, who scored the game winner in stoppage time.

ESPN's Rob Dawson has reaction and analysis from Old Trafford.

JUMP TO: Player ratings | Best/worst performers | Highlights and notable moments | Postmatch quotes | Key stats | Upcoming fixtures

Rapid reaction

1. Man United saved from nightmare Europa League fate

A draw at home against Omonia Nicosia would have been embarrassing enough -- but it would have also meant Manchester United would be all but certain of finishing second in Group E of the Europa League. From there, they would've faced a last-32 tie against a team dropping down from the Champions League, possibly Barcelona, Milan or Juventus.

Erik ten Hag will be thankful, then, for Scott McTominay's winner deep into stoppage time.

For the fourth game in a row, one of Ten Hag's substitutes came on to score. This time it was McTominay, who was only introduced nine minutes from time, with the midfielder poking the ball into the net from 6 yards out.

- Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, MLS, more (U.S.)

Aside from saving United's blushes, it means Ten Hag's side still have the chance to finish top of their group and progress straight into the last-16 in the new year. Real Sociedad sit top, three points clear, courtesy of their win at Old Trafford in September, but United still have to travel to San Sebastian for the last game in the group.

It should have been far more comfortable against Omonia -- United had 34 attempts on goal -- but in the end it was only the result that mattered and McTominay was in the right place at the right time.

2. Ten Hag taking the Europa League seriously

The Dutchman said at his prematch news conference his team would go "all out" to beat Omonia, and the manager did his part.

Starting Sunday, United have Newcastle, Tottenham and Chelsea in the space of seven days, but Ten Hag resisted the temptation to rotate his squad and picked David De Gea, Lisandro Martinez, Bruno Fernandes, Marcus Rashford and Cristiano Ronaldo against the Cypriot side. McTominay, suspended against Newcastle after picking up five yellow cards in the Premier League, looked sure to start but Ten Hag kept him on the bench in favour of Casemiro, who should be in the XI again Sunday.

Ten Hag has been consistent in his message that United are not yet good enough to look beyond the next game and he backed it up with his team selection against Omonia when it would have been easy to have one eye on a tough run of league fixtures.

Ten Hag isn't taking the Europa League lightly and even though United were made to sweat more than they would have liked, they got three points in the end. Rashford in particular should have been more clinical, but he may feel it's better to miss chances against Omonia than against Newcastle on Sunday.

3. Omonia's backup goalkeeper has a night to remember

A chest injury ruled out Omonia's No. 1, Fabiano, but in his place Francis Uzoho put in a performance of a lifetime.

It hasn't been an easy year for Uzoho, who was blamed for conceding a goal playing for Nigeria against Ghana in March, which ultimately led to his country missing out on a place at the World Cup. But if that was a low point, his display at Old Trafford was exactly the opposite.

The 23-year-old made an early save rushing out to stop Rashford but that was only the start. He tipped a Casemiro pile driver onto the crossbar, and just 12 seconds into the second half made an incredible double save to deny Antony and then Rashford.

Uzoho faced 34 attempts on goal, 13 of which were on target, but was beaten only in the 93rd minute after a scramble in the penalty area. He didn't deserve to be on the losing side and was so disappointed at the final whistle that he needed to be picked off the floor by Omonia's coaching staff. Still, it was a night he won't soon forget in front of a full house at Old Trafford and a raucous away support.

Player ratings

Man United: De Gea 6, Dalot 6, Malacia 7, Martinez 6, Lindelof 6, Casemiro 7, Fred 6, Fernandes 7, Antony 6, Rashford 7, Ronaldo 6.

Subs: Sancho 6, Shaw 6, Eriksen 6, McTominay 7.

Omonia: Uzoho 9, Yuste 7, Miletic 6, Lang 6, Kitsos 7, Matthews 6, Charalampous 6, Cassama 7, Panagiotou 6, Kakoulli 6, Bruno 6.

Subs: Loizou 6, Papoulis 6, Psaltis 6, Ansarifard 6, Diskerud 6.

Best and worst performers

BEST: Francis Uzoho, Omonia Nicosia

He wouldn't have played had Fabiano been fit enough to take his place in goal for Omonia but the Nigerian pulled off a string of saves to frustrate United.

WORST: Marcus Rashford, Manchester United

If he had his shooting boots with him, the game would have been over long before McTominay's injury-time goal.

Highlights and notable moments

Manchester United came excruciatingly close to a goal in the 32nd minute, courtesy of Casemiro.

The Brazilian got the ball outside the box and connected for a laser strike, but it rattled off the crossbar:

After the match: What the managers said

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag: "In this team there is a lot of creativity and scoring capabilities. Sometimes you have a night where you will not succeed. Today was that night. But the good thing was the team keep going and they don't give up. They keep believing and in the end we get the reward. That is the way we have to do it. I am really happy with that.

"It is about the spirit in the team and the squad. It is not just about the 11 players. Sometimes it works like that. Substitutes can have an impact when they have the right attitude and the right focus."

Omonia Nicosia manager Neil Lennon: "I am very proud of the team. We were a few minutes away from one of the greatest results in this club's history.

"We have made great strides in a short space of time. We came close to getting a draw against Sociedad and obviously tonight and last week. The players have been fantastic since I came in March.

"The fans were incredible. They looked like they enjoyed the full experience. They showed how much pride they have for the club. To bring 4,000-odd people from Cyprus is incredible.

"I think this trip has put Omonia on the map a little in Europe. We need to build on that."

Key stats (provided by ESPN Stats & Information)

  • Scott McTominay's goal (92:26) was the latest by Man United this season in all competitions. It was also the latest by the team in European competition since Sept. 29, 2021, vs. Villareal (94:15).

Up next

Manchester United: The Red Devils have a quick turnaround to return to Premier League action Sunday against Newcastle. Their next Europa League fixture is Oct. 27 when they host Sheriff Tiraspol at 3 p.m. ET.

Omonia Nicosia: I Basilissa return to Europa League action Oct. 27 when they host Real Sociedad at 3 p.m. ET in Cyprus.