Mason Greenwood scored a brace as Manchester United blanked AZ Alkmaar 4-0 in their Europa League Group L match on Thursday.
Besides scoring twice – in the 58th and 64th minute – Greenwood also drew a penalty with Juan Mata converting it. Ashley Young emerged as the other goal scorer as United scored all their four goals in 11 minutes and secured a seeding for the knockouts.
Arsenal and Standard Liege played out a 2-2 draw with Bukayo Saka scoring a goal and playing a role in another as the Gunners made it to the final 32 of the Europa League as group winners. Arsenal, the 2003-04 Premier League winners, needed to lose 0-5 to the opposition but the moment Alexandre Lacazette connected with a bullet of a header, the result was imminent.
After a monotonous start to the first half, Ashley Young opened the scoring in the 53rd minute with a powerful strike to the top of the net before Greenwood scored the first of his two goals by firing from the edge of the box. Four minutes later, Greenwood was tackled inside the box resulting in a penalty, which Mata converted by dispatched a spot kick.
Greenwood then scored his sixth goal of the season with a low shot to the near post and became United’s leading-scorer this season in Europe. Only Marcus Rushford has more goals across all competitions.
Despite an emphatic win, United Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes his side needs to strengthen their attack.
“We’re looking to strengthen in many positions,” said Solskjaer. “If you look at our squad compared to others, we’re getting there but we need two or three players to have a squad with enough numbers to rotate throughout a long season and we’ll see what we sign.”
In the group F match, after a dull first-half, Samuel Bestian put Liege ahead two minutes into the second-half as his shot ricocheted off Sokratis and beat goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez. The hosts then doubled their lead 12 minutes later through another deflection off Konstantinos Mavropanos from a kick from Salim Amallah.
However, the two-goal lead would be short-lived. In the final 20 minutes, Arsenal picked steam with Lacazette heading home, with the 18-year-old scoring twice in three minutes.
“He [Saka] was amazing. I think he was a bit upset with me before the game that he had to play wing-back and then full-back. Because he doesn’t like it so much. But no, he’s a tremendous talent and you could see it here again. His final ball and the last bit is always effective and there’s always an end product to his work,” Arsenal interim boss Freddie Ljungberg said.
“I felt sorry sometimes for our young players because a lot of them have not been on loan. So they haven’t got that exposure to play 90 minutes of men’s football for a longer period of time.”