Mason Greenwood keeps good news week going despite Man Utd’s sluggish Astana showing

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It is a measure of the faith Manchester United have in Mason Greenwood that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer heaped pressure sky high on the youngster ahead of only his second start.

But a day after being labelled as one of the best finishers his manager had seen, the 17-year-old proved him right to kick off their European campaign with a win.

This was not a high quality performance from United but it was a match they dominated before and after Greenwood’s calm finish settled matters.

Yet the youngster’s calm second-half finish from a tight angle and all round performance which might have seen him score three – he curled one around the post in the first half and saw an effort on the turn blocked – was promising.

For a side finding scoring difficult, the emergence of a player who scored 30 in 29 appearances in youth teams last season, is good news.

This has been a good news week for Solskjaer and United with a win over Leicester at home followed by signatures of David de Gea and Victor Lindelof on long-term deals.

And the visit of FC Astana, hardly a powerhouse of European football, gave them every chance to keep the vibe flowing, giving Solskjaer a chance to offer a glimpse into the future by reaching into his reserves and youth sides and grabbing a handful to sprinkle around including the highly-regarded Greenwood.

It was no doubt a frustration to Solskjaer that most of United’s first half chances fell to others following his pre-match praise of Greenwood.

Marcus Rashford could and probably have put United out of sight in the opening period, but courageous goalkeeping and his own wayward finishing ensured the teams went in level.

Fred had hit the bar from distance in the first three minutes and shortly after the first of two good chances arrived for Rashford, the striker finding the ball unexpectedly at his feet from a corner only to pick out goalkeeper Nenad Eric from four yards.

Greenwood combined well with Rashford on 15 minutes curling a shot just past the far post after cutting inside from the right side of the area.

Rashford then had an even better chance, left alone by the Astana defenders after Marcus Rojo picked him out with a long ball from the left side, Rashford’s poke again picked out Eric.

Astana offered little threat in attack but United could have been made to pay for wasteful finishing when Roman Murtazayev broke on the counter only for Phil Jones to throw in a saving challenge to rob him just as he was about to pull the trigger.

For all their possession United delivery of the final ball was poor.

United started the second half with greater urgency, Gomes putting Rojo in space near the left byline only for him to hammer his square ball too hard across the six yard area. Greenwood turned and shot inside the area but again picked out the Astana keeper.

Having absorbed pressure to the hour mark Astana started to create a few counter attacks and prompted Solskjaer to abandon his youthful experiment and throw on Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata for Chong and Gomes.

He was vindicated fully when the one he left on turned the game.

Fred picked out Greenwood on the right side but he turned Dorin Rotariu inside and out before slotting calmly home inside Eric’s near post.

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