Manchester United needed a stoppage time winner from Scott McTominay to secure a win over Omonia at Old Trafford in the Europa League, having been frustrated by their opponents for 90 minutes – and especially stand-in goalkeeper Francis Uzoho.
United unsurprisingly dominated possession from the off, but clear chances were initially few and far between in the opening stages of the game. When the hosts did get sight of goal, Marcus Rashford was twice denied by strong saves from Uzoho.
Midway through the first half, Bruno Fernandes flashed a long-range effort just wide of the goal that had Uzoho either rooted to the spot or extremely confident it was missing the target, before Rashford again saw the Nigerian stopper’s fingertips keep the scores level.
Uzoho may have even just got fingers to a Casemiro drive that whacked the crossbar.
In the closing stages of the first 45, Fred probably should have done better with a header from an Antony cross, getting the timing of his jump wrong and nodding over. But, actually, United were fortunate not go in at the break a goal down when Bruno Felipe raced away from Victor Lindelof and blasted off target rather than square it to Andronikos Kakoullis for a tap-in.
It remained goal-less but United turned up the pressure in the second half, with Cristiano Ronaldo drawing more saves out of Uzoho. In amongst that, Omonia were arguably fortunate not to be reduced to 10 men when Moreto Cassama was only cautioned for what appeared to be a dangerous tackle on Casemiro. The Cypriots also survived penalty shouts as United called for a handball.
Uzoho was called into action again in the final 10 minutes, beating away a low effort from substitute Scott McTominay to his left.
But it was the same player who eventually dragged a United side that had 33 total shots to victory in the 92nd minute, showing great composure as the ball fell to him around seven yards out. From that position, Uzoho stood no chance as the ball finally flew past him.
GK: David de Gea – 6/10 – Largely a spectator.
RB: Diogo Dalot – 6/10 – Always well advanced, often like an extra winger.
CB: Lisandro Martinez – 5/10 – Took a big risk when he seemed to nudge Kakoullis out of the way near the end of the first half when the Omonia forward had a chance of getting in at goal.
CB: Victor Lindelof – 5/10 – Outpaced by Bruno Felipe in the closing stages of the first half that could have been disastrous.
LB: Tyrell Malacia – 6/10 – Got forward quite well and was also often tucking into a central midfield role when United had the ball.
CM: Casemiro – 7/10 – Hit the crossbar via Uzoho’s fingertips. A decent performance on both sides of the ball.
CM: Fred – 6/10 – Probably should have scored a first half header.
RM: Antony – 6/10 – Less impactful than United fans have been used to but it was a surprise to see him start this one.
AM: Bruno Fernandes (c) – 7/10 – Pulled creative strings in central areas, although his shooting radar was a little off.
LM: Marcus Rashford – 6/10 – Denied three times by the excellent Uzoho in the first half hour alone. United’s most consistent threat early on but faded.
ST: Cristiano Ronaldo – 5/10 – Didn’t get enough quality service and was denied by Uzoho a couple of times.
SUB: Luke Shaw (60′ for Malacia) – 7/10
SUB: Jadon Sancho (60′ for Antony) – 5/10
SUB: Christian Eriksen (70′ for Fred) – 6/10
SUB: Scott McTominay (81′ for Casemiro) – 7/10
Manager: Erik ten Hag – 7/10 – Surprisingly opted against much rotation from the side that beat Everton on Sunday. His changes were vindicated when McTominay eventually scored in stoppage time.
Player of the match – Francis Uzoho (Omonia)
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