Manchester United 0-1 Juventus: 5 positives for the Red Devils
Manchester United welcomed Juventus to Old Trafford on Saturday ahead of a highly anticipated encounter in the group stages of the 2018/19 UEFA Champions League. Both teams were enjoying contrasting fortunes in their respective leagues. Juventus were sitting pretty at the top of Serie A, earning 25 points from the nine games played.
Manchester United were 10th in the Premier League, with 14 points in the same number of games. In the Champions League, Juventus were leading the group with six points, while United were second on four points. Both teams were unbeaten in the Champions League heading into the game. However, the game was also in the news for a different reason.
Cristiano Ronaldo and Paul Pogba were both in contention to face their former clubs, thus making for an emotional encounter. United were unbeaten in their last eight games against Italian opponents and had won their last three encounters against the Old Lady.
Jose Mourinho knew that he needed three points at home to confirm passage into the next round. The Portuguese manager named an unchanged team from the weekend encounter against Chelsea. The presence of sensational teenager Tahith Chong on the bench made matters pretty exciting.
United started on the back foot and went behind in the first half, when Paulo Dybala scored an opportunistic goal as early as the 17th minute. United rallied in the second half, but the equalizer eluded them, and the game ended 1-0. However, even in defeat, United should have a little satisfaction because there were five positives for them in the game, and we discuss those here.
#5 Ashley Young’s performance at right back
Over the weekend, Young was entrusted with stopping Eden Hazard. Three days later, he had to confront Cristiano Ronaldo, but to his credit, the Englishman dealt with the challenge well. Ronaldo found no joy on that side and had to switch places regularly to try to influence the game.
Young was strong in the defence and managed to keep Alex Sandro quiet for majority of the game. However, his contribution was not limited to the defence alone. The Englishman was very effective going forward. He regularly found space, sent in good crosses, and showed speed and character uncharacteristic of his age. His dribbling ability also gave Juventus a few headaches.
In the second half, Young was instrumental in the United fight back. He was always available on the right and was tireless throughout the 90 minutes. It was a stellar performance from a very versatile player and he gives Mourinho some relief in the midst of a few niggling injuries in his defence.