Manchester United endured a second successive chastening performance in their Europa League opener, this time being humbled 3-0 by Young Boys on Thursday evening at the Red Devils’ only home fixture in the group stages.
Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was booed by fans throughout after allowing Marcus Rashford and Romelu Lukaku to leave in the second half at Old Trafford as his team fell behind to a header from Matias Kiessling in the 38th minute.
David de Gea was at fault for the latter goal, fumbling Tiems Feghouli’s glancing header at the near post, but Young Boys kept the the pressure on the hosts and were rewarded when Feghouli’s in-swinging free-kick was turned home by substitute Marco Streller.
Although Jesse Lingard and Lukaku should have put United level in the 78th minute after either side of a Young Boys defensive blunder, the outcome was never in doubt.
As they have been since Solskjaer’s arrival, United struggled to create clear-cut chances against a strong team and their lack of firepower was exposed once again. Lukaku and Rashford were the only two who left the home side’s starting line-up on Thursday evening but Solskjaer’s attempts to revitalise the team’s attack have so far come up short.
Solskjaer believes his team need to stay better focused, but it’s questionable whether the 66-year-old has sufficient time to stamp his mark on the struggling side. His team showed few signs of urgency after falling behind to Young Boys, and will face another stern test in their second Group H outing when Paris Saint-Germain visit Old Trafford on September 12.
United still made the better start, with Andreas Pereira — in his first start for the club — providing a near-post cross for Rashford to meet from six yards out.
However, so much more attacking threat then should have ensued when United somehow escaped conceding a penalty after Paul Pogba was scythed down by Daniel De Rossi inside the Young Boys penalty area.
PSG will have a chance to ensure that doesn’t happen again on Thursday after United failed to test Yann Sommer in the Swiss team’s goal in the opening stages. However, their resilience was underlined when the home side somehow failed to clear a corner at close range and Tiemoue Bakayoko’s shot trickled wide from eight yards out.
The Germans couldn’t make their lack of firepower count when they struggled to clear another corner, eventually gifted to them by Alexis Sanchez.
Pogba’s header at the far post had Sommer scrambling away, but instead of marking it out of the goal, the ball rolled for Feghouli to bundle home the opener.
Having embarked on a 23-match unbeaten run in all competitions last season, Solskjaer was determined to get the United season up and running after the international break, but not even a boost in fitness for Anthony Martial and Ander Herrera could get the hosts out of trouble before the break.
United will travel to Stockholm on Friday evening to face a club who were knocked out by United in the last-16 of the Champions League in 2017.