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Man Utd's kids fail Kazakh exam

Pin Man Utd's kids were outclassed in the second half by Kazakh champions Astana. Twitter/ManUtd
Man Utd's kids were outclassed in the second half by Kazakh champions Astana. Twitter/ManUtd

Man Utd's kids fail Kazakh exam

Paul Singh by Paul Singh @besoccer_com - 0 3,208

Jesse Lingard gave Man Utd's young team the lead, but a Shonko strike and a Bernard own goal meant Solskjaer's men lost 2-1 at Astana in the Europa League group L game at the Astana Arena.

Man Utd's youngsters came up short against the champions of Kazakhstan in a Europa League match with little at stake. Solskjaer played his second string and academy players, but none of them shone on a cold night in Astana. 

Jesse Lingard, the captain, was by far United's best player and after Greenwood's early shot, he gave the visitors the lead after 10 minutes. Good build up play ended with Luke Shaw passing to Lingard on the edge of the box and he hit to the left of Eric. It was the perfect start for Solskjaer's men. United continued to dominate the opening half an hour and Lingard had two chances in the space of 60 seconds, but failed to hit the target with either of them. Then halfway through the first half, Astana woke up. 

First of all, Rotariu missed from close range after Beysebekov's pass along the ground beat everyone and then in the 26th minute, Logvinenko smacked over the bar. The game was much more even in the final 20 minutes and Beysebekov tested Grant nine minutes before the break before Murtazayev hit off target right on half-time. 

Man Utd were leading at the interval after a dominant start to the match while the hosts had hardly threatened and Lee Grant was a mere spectator in the visiting goal. In the second half, that all changed though

Astana won corners early on and Bernard almost scored an own goal inside three minutes while trying to turn behind an Astana cross. They continued to pressure the United youngsters and the away side were on the back foot. Maevski almost made it 1-1 when he shot wide after a pinball before Chong missed a sitter in the 54th minute. Shaw gave him the ball after a lovely one-two and Chong hit over from three yards with an empty net. It was easier to score than miss and seconds later, Astana restored parity

Murtgazayev passed to Shomko inside the box, he took a touch and his slightly scuffed shot went through Bernard's legs and into the far corner. The goal was most certainly coming and Astana had not finished there. After more Astana pressure, it got better for them in the 62nd minute after Antonio Rukavina's cross was turned into his own net by Bernard's chest. It went down as an own goal because the ball was definitely not going on target and it bad luck for the English side. 

Chong was subbed off a few minutes later, but Solskjaer had no experience to turn to on his bench. Lingard curled an effort wide 17 minutes from time while Khiznichenko missed a glorious opportunity at the other end after an attack which started on the far side. Murtazayev then hit wide before Man Utd took charge in the final 15 minutes. 

Eric had to make two fantastic stops to keep it 2-1. First he denied Gomes' when the ball looked to be going in the top corner and then he had to knock Greenwood's shot for a corner kick after Gomes' pass. It made you wonder what United had been doing for the previous half an hour. 

A draw would have been fair and the debutant Levitt had one final pop in stoppage time which went well over the goal, but despite late pressure, United were unable to deny Astana a famous win. Jesse Lingard shone for the away side and Luke Shaw also played very well, but many of the youngsters showed they were not yet ready to break into the first team with the performance this evening. Astana stay bottom, but now have three points while United remain top on 10 points. Even though they are through to the last 32, Solskjaer's men may not qualify as group winners

Paul Singh

Paul Singh

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