Diogo Dalot Man United's biggest threat going forward in 0-0 draw at lively AZ
Manchester United played out a 0-0 Europa League draw against a spirited AZ Alkmaar side on Thursday, to heap yet more pressure on under-fire boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
In a game in which many of United's regulars were rested, expectations were slightly dampened going in, with a number of the squad's younger members given a chance to shine. But it was to be a frustrating evening for the away side, who were unable to create many chances of note. It means that United remain unbeaten in the Europa League this season, with four points from two games. But the performance, and lack of impetus in attack, will surely be a worry for United, who may count themselves lucky to have left with a point following some late AZ pressure.
Defensively, United were much improved on the night, despite one or two hairy moments. Victor Lindelof looked composed while Marcos Rojo played a key role in denying a number of potential goal-scoring opportunities. Solskjaer will also be pleased by some good individual performances, with the likes of Diogo Dalot and Daniel James looking dangerous down the right-hand side.
United were continuously poor in possession, giving the ball away far too frequently. The isolation of James and Mason Greenwood at times highlighted how United struggled to mount pressure with sustained periods on the ball.
Manager rating out of 10
6 -- Solskjaer came into the tie under pressure following a series of underwhelming results, but his rotation and faith in some of United's younger players may leave fans wondering how much the boss values the Europa League. That being said, the starting XI was a good blend of youth and experience, and the draw -- while not ideal -- isn't a terrible result given the team that was put out.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best, players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK David De Gea, 7 -- A fine performance for the Spanish stopper. He was forced into action with a few good saves to keep the score at 0-0, but aside from that, it was a trouble-free night between the sticks for De Gea.
DF Diogo Dalot, 7 -- Was arguably United's biggest threat going forward in the first half, managing to get forward to provide width, whipping in a number of dangerous crosses in the process. A good return to form for the young right-back.
DF Victor Lindelof, 7 -- Was the more solid of United's centre-back pairing -- unsurprisingly. The Swedish international played a pivotal role in largely containing a dangerous AZ attacking trio.
DF Marcos Rojo, 6 -- An improved display from Rojo at centre-back, a position in which he has not looked entirely comfortable in on many occasions for United.
DF Brandon Williams, 5 -- A second ever first-team appearence for the 19-year-old left-back, who did struggle up against the skillful Calvin Stengs. He will have better nights ahead, with defensive duties limiting his ability to impact the game going forward.
MF Fred, 6 -- The Brazilian helped his side win possession back on a number of occasions, but once the ball was won, he struggled to stamp his authority on the game. Solid, if unspectacular.
MF Nemanja Matic, 5 -- Was responsible for a number of stray passes throughout the game, but otherwise it was an average night for the Serbian.
MF Juan Mata, 6 -- The former Spain star was United's biggest creator centrally throughout the first half, delivering a number of incisive balls in a game defined by frustrating passing. As the game wore on, his impact did diminish, especially after being moved to the right side once James was subbed off.
FW Angel Gomes, 6 -- Playing in his less-favoured position of left wing, Gomes had a mixed evening. Early on he looked a threat, drifting around the pitch in an attempt to find valuable space. But some frustratingly loose passing and a lack of composure in key areas keep his score down on this occasion.
FW Daniel James, 7 -- The Welshman has been one of United's best performers so far this season, and once again, he was lively going forward. James largely featured on the right side, and in doing so was able to link up well with Dalot. He was unfortunate to not have grabbed an assist in the first half, with Greenwood squandering a good chance from a James cross.
FW Mason Greenwood, 6 -- Missed a great opportunity to make it two goals in two Europa League games this season, having a shot blocked from close range in the first half. He cut an isolated figure at times as United struggled to maintain possession.
FW Marcus Rashford, 6 -- Replaced James with a half hour to go, but never appeared to get into the game, as United struggled to create chances late on. Went down in the box feeling he was tripped on 75 minutes, but no penalty was ultimately given.
MF Jesse Lingard, N/R -- Came on in place of Greenwood after 77 minutes, but couldn't alter the outcome of the match.
MF Scott McTominay, N/R -- Replaced Mata with a mere seven minutes of the 90 remaining.