Man Utd 4-0 AZ Alkmaar: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Mason Greenwood Inspires Victory

Manchester United confirmed their position at the top of their group in the Europa League with an emphatic 4-0 win against Dutch side AZ Alkmaar at Old Trafford on Thursday evening. 

The first half remained fairly uneventful with both sides playing fairly passive football, happy to pass the ball around the back four without taking too many risks. Bar the odd fast counter from Man Utd neither side really looked like scoring. 

The game changed in the second half though as the Red Devils began pressing for an opening goal and becoming more adventurous with the ball. They took the lead through a composed finish from Ashley Young into the roof of the net from a tight angle after clever skill from Andreas Pereira and a neat pass across the goal from Juan Mata. 

The goal led to Alkmaar’s capitulation as they went on to concede three more in just over 11 minutes. 

Ashley Young

Mason Greenwood netted the second in controversial circumstances with a sweet strike from just outside the box. He received the ball after what seemed a clear foul from James Garner but the ref waved play on. Greenwood was again involved minutes later as a clever touch from the youngster off a through ball led to a penalty as he was tripped by Jordy Classie. Mata stepped up to the plate and buried the pen. Just moments later, Greenwood scored his second of the night as he cut inside onto his left foot and swept the ball past the keeper from the right side of the box to make it 4-0. 

Alkmaar remained seemingly uninterested in attack as they continued to apply little pressure to ?United’s back four. The Dutch side scrape through the group in second place while Man Utd comfortably top it. An easy night’s work for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his team.


?Manchester United

Key Talking Point

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Manchester United’s youth showed they can be relied upon when needed. The likes of Mason Greenwood showed how dangerous and fearless he can be and has given United fans further reason to be excited about the future. Brandon Williams showed great calmness both at the back and going forward today despite his relative inexperience. 

With Solskajer willing to look to the younger players, United know there are exciting, young talents ready to step in at any time.

Brandon Williams


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Romero (6), Young (7), Tuanzebe (5), Maguire (6), Williams (6), Garner (4), Matic (5), Mata (7), Pereira (7), Greenwood (9), Martial (6)

Substitutes: Jones (6), Chong (6), Laird (6)


Star Man

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Mason Greenwood has proven once again he can be relied on by United despite his relatively young age. Even at just 18 years old, Greenwood showed great composure on the ball, protecting it well and helping to create chances. 

Both goals required great poise which he showed in abundance to sweep both past the helpless goalkeeper. 

Greenwood showed his willingness to make runs down the middle as well as show his danger out wide so United could have a fantastic player on their hands in the years to come. They will have to figure out whether he is more comfortable down the middle or out wide.

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AZ Alkmaar

Player Ratings: 

Starting XI: Bizot (6), Clasie (4), Wijndal (5), Svensson (5), Wuytens (5), Midtsjo (5), de Wit (6), Koopmeiners (5), Idrissi (6), Stengs (6), Sugawara (5)

Substitutes: Vlaar (5), Ouwejan (5), Druijf (5)


Looking Ahead

The Premier League returns again this weekend and Manchester United face managerless Everton at home on Sunday as they look to continue their strong run of form. 

Alkmaar face a very difficult challenge as they take on Eredivisie champions Ajax at home on Sunday in the league. 

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Vinicius Junior Uses Raheem Sterling Comparison as He Brushes Off Scoring Concerns

?Vinícius Júnior had denied that plans to depart Real Madrid on loan despite his limited playing time, while also insisting that he is not concerned by his lack of goals for the club. 

The 19-year-old has been left out of the matchday squad on five occasions this season, making just 13 appearances in all competitions. 

Scoring just twice during that time, speculation has linked the Brazilian with a move away from the club to gain more game-time and regain his form, but Vínicíus was quick to quash those rumours after his side’s ?3-1 win over Club Brugge on Wednesday.

Vinicius Junior

When asked if he has thought about departing the Spanish capital, via Marca, he swiftly responded that he had: “I’ve never thought about leaving ?Real Madrid.

The forward registered a rare goal against the Belgian side and when questioned about whether he was concerned about his limited scoring contribution, the former Flamengo man strongly asserted that he was not, using Raheem Sterling as a comparison. 

I don’t play for that, I play to help the team. Sterling [for ?Manchester City] also had trouble scoring goals. I left Brazil very early and I’m working hard to do great things.”

Raheem Sterling

Also on the scoresheet during the game was Rodrygo who – despite only being 18 – has startlingly emerged as a first team regular for Zinedine Zidane’s side this season. 

It was the second time that the young Brazilian pair had started together in as many games and Vínicíus said he was delighted with his compatriot’s recent progress. 

We are friends and I am happy because he is doing things very well,” the forward revealed. 

Vinicius Junior

After a game against Valencia on Saturday, Los Blancos will take on Barcelona in the Clásíco and ?despite fresh safety concerns over the fixtureVínicíus stated that he was is not letting the uncertainty affect his preparation. 

When quizzed about potential security issues he said: “We don’t think about that. We have our head in Valencia. In the locker room we are calm.”


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Barcelona President Insists El Clásico Will Go Ahead Amid Continued Safety Concerns

?Barcelona club president Josep Maria Bartomeu has insisted that the Clásico will not be postponed again, after the date of the original fixture was moved due to safety concerns. 

Real Madrid and Barça were supposed to play at Camp Nou on 26 October, but protests relating to Catalan independence led to the game being rescheduled for 18 December. 

The game was again put in doubt earlier this week, when it emerged that a pro-Catalan independence group known as ‘?Tsunami Democratic’ planned to stage a large scale protest during the fixture, which again raised concerns over player safety. 

FC Barcelona v RCD Mallorca  - La Liga

Despite this, Bartomeu insisted that the game would be played during his annual Christmas Speech on Thursday. 

“It will be played, the Clásico will be played, it will not be postponed again,” the Barcelona president stated, as reported by ?Mundo Deportivo.

“It is everyone’s responsibility [to ensure the game is played], we know that we are experiencing a complex social and political moment but I am convinced that it is compatible with a football game being played.”

Josep Maria Bartomeu

Bartomeu stopped short of condemning Tsunami Democratic – in keeping with the club’s tradition of tacitly supporting the independence cause – but revealed he also hoped any protest would not detract from the football itself.

“Anyone who wants can obviously make their manifestations but in a civic and peaceful way,” he said.

“Our stadium has been and will be a space of free expression and I want to give a message of normalcy. 

FBL-LIGA-ESP-REAL MADRID-BARCELONA

“We will try to win the sportsmanship and support of the fans and partners to the players. Together we have to make it a sport and civic party.”

Despite Bartomeu assurances that Real are safe to travel, ?El Chiringuito are reporting that the club still harbour significant concerns.

The media outlet is claiming that the ?Los Blancos players will not get off the plane in Barcelona if it does not have guaranteed security


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Standard Liege 2-2 Arsenal: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Gunners Fight Back to Top Group

Arsenal secured qualification for the last 32 of the Europa League in unconvincing fashion as they were forced to fight back for a 2-2 draw against Standard Liege on Thursday evening.

The Gunners started the better of the two teams, with good hold-up play from Alexandre Lacazette allowing Emile Smith Rowe a clear sight of goal early on, but his shot was deflected behind by Arnaud Badart.

On a very poor surface, the game lacked a coherent rhythm for much of the first half but that didn’t stop Bukayo Saka and Joe Willock both spurning opportunities to score.?

It took until the 47th minute for the first goal of the game, with a wicked deflection off Sokratis diverting Samuel Bastien’s speculative shot past Emiliano Martinez in the Gunners goal.

SOCCER EL GROUP STAGE STANDARD VS ARSENAL

Standard would get fortunate for a second occasion 22 minutes later with Selim Amallah’s scoring via another deflection, this one courtesy of Konstantinos Mavropanos, to double the hosts’ lead.

The visitors pulled one back to put to bed any fears of the home side completing the five-goal swing required to prevent the Gunners from progressing into the last 32, with Lacazette nodded home Saka’s cross in the 78th minute.

Minutes later, creator turned into scorer, with Saka bending an excellent shot into the bottom corner to level up the game.

FBL-EUR-C3-STANDARD-ARSENAL

That would prove to be the final goal of an exciting second half, with Arsenal securing first place in Group F due to Frankfurt’s defeat to Vitória. 

Here’s 90min’s breakdown of the game.


Arsenal?

Talking Point

Possibly in an attempt to stimulate some life in Arsenal’s passionless recent performances, Freddie Ljungberg ?switched to a 3-4-3 system this evening. 

The decision was partly vindicated in the first half with Saka and Reiss Nelson linking up very nicely down the left-hand side, while to a lesser extent, the Gunners double-barrelled brothers, Maitland-Niles and Smith Rowe also operated well down the right wing. 

Alexandre Lacazette,Kostas Laifis

Again though, the Gunners lacked a clinical edge and were made to pay for their wastefulness when the home side scored two fortunate goals just after half time. 

Perhaps this would spark a revival in the young Gunners squad? Yes…sort of. Arsenal’s approach play was void of invention and creativity for much of the second half with Ljungberg cutting a depressing figure on the touchline – slumped into his chair with only Per Mertesacker to comfort him. 

Freddie Ljungberg

Fortunately, they were saved by two pieces of individual brilliance by Saka, who provided the assist for Lacazette to pull a goal back, before scoring an equaliser minutes later. 

Don’t let the result fool you – this was another overwhelming disappointing performance from Arsenal.


Player Ratings

Starting XI: Martinez (6); Maitland-Niles (6), Sokratis (5), Luiz (5), Mavropanos (4), Saka (8*); Guendouzi (6), Willock (5); Nelson (7), Lacazette (7), Smith-Rowe (6). 

Substitutes: Aubameyang (6), Chambers (6), Martinelli (6)


Star Man

FBL-EUR-C3-STANDARD-ARSENAL

?After bursting onto the scene by scoring and registering two assists against ?Frankfurt in September – in the Gunners’ opening game in this competition – Saka has emerged as a first team player at the Emirates Stadium. 

The 18-year-old’s emergence has been a rare positive in a miserable season for the Gunners and he put in another exciting performance this evening. 

Providing the assist for Lacazette’s goal before scoring one of his own, Saka acted as his side’s ‘get out of jail free card’ tonight in a mostly dire display. 


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Standard Liege

Player Ratings

Starting XI: Bodart (6); Fai (6), Vanheusden (6), Laifis (5), Gavory (6); Carcela-Martinez (7), Bastien (7), Amallah (7), Cimirot (6), M’Poku (7); Emond (5)

Substitutes: Avenatti (6), Lestienne (N/A) 


Looking Ahead ?

Next up Arsenal face the daunting task of facing Manchester City on Sunday as they look to close the gap on the top four in the Premier League.

Standard Liege on the other hand have an equally mouth watering Derby of Belgium.tie against struggling Anderlecht.  

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How Liverpool Beat Man Utd to Takumi Minamino With Star Set for Medical

Red Bull Salzburg forward Takumi Minamino will become a ?Liverpool player on 1 January pending only a medical. The Reds faced competition from Manchester United but won the battle for the midfielder in part due to their rivals being apparently unaware of the 24-year-old’s £7.25m release clause. 

Subject to passing his medical, Minamino will join Liverpool at the start of next month, bolstering Jurgen Klopp’s ranks as they look to secure their first-ever Premier League title. 


The Japan international has scored nine goals and registered 11 assists for Salzburg this season, with his impressive form attracting interest from a host of clubs. 

Bundesliga leaders Borussia Mönchengladbach, Serie A side ?Milan, as well as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s ?United had all been tracking the player.

However, the ?Mirror report that the reason that Liverpool have managed to beat their rivals to Minamino’s signature is that they were the only club aware of his low release clause.

Takumi Minamino

Knowledge of the clause convinced the Reds to move quickly, before their opponents could swoop in with a deal of their own. 

The Reds have reportedly been tracking the player for an extended period of time, with the ?Liverpool Echo claiming that negotiations have been underway between the two clubs since November. 

The same report also alleges that a number of senior figures in the Anfield dressing room actually pleaded with the Liverpool recruitment team to sign the star – after he had terrorised them in a ?Champions League tie. 

Patson Daka,Jerome Onguene,Rasmus Kristensen,Takumi Minamino,Andreas Ulmer

Little did the players know that negotiations were well underway to sign a player that Klopp has expressed admiration for in the past. 

Minamino has played a number of positions for RB Salzburg, operating on the left, right of midfielder, in a deeper central role and even as and as an auxiliary striker, making him able to fill in for anywhere across the Reds’ forward line. 

His high work-rate and determination has also endeared him to Klopp, who famously favours an intense playing style. 


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