Manchester United secured their safe passage into the Champions League knockout stages on Tuesday, as they saw off Young Boys 1-0. It was another insipid performance from José Mourinho’s men, though a last-gasp goal from Marouane Fellaini spared their blushes and a second consecutive goalless draw.
United dominated possession from the off, though what they had in possession they lacked in incision. The very best chance of the half came when Luke Shaw threaded Marcus Rashford through on goal after five minutes, though the striker chipped over the crossbar from the edge of the penalty area. The angle was tight and the chance tricky, but he should’ve done better.
Rashford was at the pointy end of most of United’s attacking play, though produced nothing to show for it. By halftime the hosts’ single shot on target had been comfortably saved by David von Ballmoos, with the young Swiss keeper otherwise entirely untested by a barrage of long-range hit-and-hopes.
If there was anything positive to report, it was that David de Gea had even less to do, though that would’ve been different had Djibril Sow done better on Kevin Mbabu’s low cross in stoppage time. The Swiss midfielder attempted a needlessly elaborate flick at the near post, and one of the best chances of the half went begging.
Notwithstanding their apparent passivity, United twice carved out good chances early in the second half. The first culminated in yet another frustrating close-range miss from Rashford; the second a less surprising but no more excusable blunder from Fellaini, who lashed over from the edge of the six-yard box with an open goal gaping.
Mourinho had seen enough: Jesse Lingard and Fred were hooked for Romelu Lukaku and Paul Pogba.The move almost immediately pulled off, with some tidy footwork from Pogba carving out an immediate chance for Rashford, though he lashed wide, again, from the edge of the box.
Were it not from some absolutely remarkable goalkeeping from David de Gea a few minutes later, United would’ve been behind. Christian Fassnacht’s effort took deflections off both Chris Smalling and Mbabu and looked destined to roll over the line, though the United keeper sprung to his right to push the ball to safety.
Young Boys seemed to be growing in confidence, egged on by an enthusiastic wall of yellow-clad travelling supporters. But in the end, luck was with the hosts. In stoppage time, a long Shaw punt was flicked on by Lukaku and into the path of the big Belgian. An uncharacteristically sharp turn was matched by an even better finish, as he drove the ball beyond von Ballmoos and inside the far post. Woohoo, we guess ...