Manchester United picked up three more points in their UEFA Europa League matchup away at Omonia Nicosia in Cyprus. It was a very flawed performance, but halftime appearances from Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial gave United the boost they needed to get a sloppy 3-2 win.
It was a very promising start to the match. As you might expect United were by far the more talented team in the first half hour. Unfortunately they failed to capitalize on their dominant possession, including a couple bad misses from Cristiano Ronaldo and a baffling decision by Antony to try and pass when he was clear through on goal.
The breakthrough came for Omonia after Karim Ansarifard finished off a counter attack that stemmed from a Tyrell Malacia giveaway after a free kick opportunity for United. Malacia was dispossessed, and Christian Eriksen was left scrambling as the only man back for United.
The hosts went into the break with a 1-0 lead, but could easily have had another. An apparently foul in the area by Victor Lindelof passed VAR inspection, but could have been given as a penalty. United looked all out of sorts from the time they conceded to the halftime whistle, and were desperate for something to give them focus again.
In an attempt to get the game back in control, Erik ten Hag sent on Marcus Rashford and Luke Shaw after the break. The impact was nearly instantaneous, with Rashford missing on an off balance shot before scoring on a similar opportunity just a couple minutes later.
Around the hour mark Anthony Martial made his entrance, and scored in the 63rd minute to put United in front. He linked up beautifully with Rashford, just like old times, before cutting in and firing a shot past the keeper and into the bottom left corner.
Ronaldo had several chances to make it three for United, but failed to score, even hitting the upright with a wide open net in front of him. Finally one of his poor shots turned useful, scooting wide of the goal and hanging there for Rashford to finish it off and give United a 3-1 advantage. They would need it, as Omonia found the net a second time very soon after the restart. Nicolas Panayiotou finished of an incisive move that cut through the Reds midfield and defense far too easily.
United switched back on after conceding, and despite another pair of awful attempts to finish by Ronaldo they were able to see out the win.
It was nearly an embarrassment on the night for United as well as their number 7, and this performance should worry Erik ten Hag ahead of a tight run of fixtures leading up to the World Cup. Answers must be found in midfield and defence, and it’s likely time for Martial to re-join the attacking line.