Greenwood's goal the difference as United narrowly squeeze past a stubborn Astana
Greenwood's goal the difference as United narrowly squeeze past a stubborn Astana
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Greenwood's goal the difference as United narrowly squeeze past a stubborn Astana

Mason Greenwood scored the only goal as Manchester United narrowly beat Astana FC 1-0 at home in their opening Europa League match on Thursday night. 

United were the better side through the match against the minnows, but could not turn their possession into a huge margin win. 

The home team were the first to attack on the third minute, with Fred wasting an opportunity as he tried his luck with a shot from mid-range, but his effort hit the crossbar.

The home side came close to scoring again on the 12th minute, this time Marcus Rashford managing to make a yard for himself as he picked up a rebound ball after chaos in the box and quickly sent a shot towards the bottom left corner, but the goalkeeper pulled off a remarkable save to keep the ball from hitting the net. 

United kept knocking and Mason Greenwood came close once again, picking up the ball in space and from inside the penalty area and sending a shot inches wide of the left post.

On the 21st minute, Marcus Rashford got on the end of a pass and produced a promising first-time shot towards the bottom left corner, but his effort was blocked by Nenad Eric with a brilliant diving save.

There was little action from then onwards, as both teams struggled to find clear-cut chances to grab the opener. 

Second half

Two minutes after the restart, Marcos Rojo's effort on goal missed to the right, as he came close to grabbing the opener. 

United came close to taking the lead one more time, this time Rashford's ferocious freekick from mid-range curling inches above the crossbar.

Fred was denied by the keeper on the hour-mark, with his goal-bound freekick to the right post perfectly saved to keep the scores at 0-0.

A minute later, however, the visitors came close to scoring, with Dorin Rotariu pouncing on a great cross inside the box, but lashed his powerful first-time shot a whisker past the left post.

It seemed a matter of when and not if United will score, and their pressing paid off on the 73rd minute, with Mason Greenwood finishing off beautifully after individual brilliance on the edge of the box, sending the ball between Nenad Eric's legs.

Three minutes later, Marcos Rojo unleashed a long-range shot which was neatly hit, but it scorched inches wide of the right post.

With 10 minutes to go, Jesse Lingard, who had come in as a second-half substitute, unleashed a thunderous effort from the edge of the box, and the ball crashed against the left post. 

There was little action going into the final minutes, with United holding to record the win. 

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