Five things we learned as Manchester United beat AC Milan 1-0
Manchester United have beaten AC Milan in the San Siro.
Here is a look at five things we learned from the game…
United’s starting midfield lacked quality
Just like in the first leg at Old Trafford, the starting duo of Fred and Scott McTominy were outmatched by Milan.
While the pair possess a sometimes useful trait of winning the ball back high up the pitch, the problem came when they were in possession, and they were far too wasteful.
Neither player gave Bruno Fernandes the support or options he needed, and it was a typically disjointed first 45 minutes like we have seen in recent weeks while Paul Pogba has been out.
Despite a promising opening couple of minutes, United did not attack effectively, managing just one shot on target in the first half.
Both McTominay and Fred improved in the second half, but they needed Pogba to bring it out of them.
Ole made the right call
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had seen enough by half-time, and brought Paul Pogba on.
He replaced Marcus Rashford, which was a little of a surprise – but the United attacker was clearly unfit, and played like it in the first half.
Pogba gave United a different option. He is strong at retaining possession and United looked more confident straight away.
The change paid off instantly, as Pogba scored after just three minutes.
Solskjaer’s bravery in making the early change paid off. This should bolden him to be bold with future substitutions.
Just like Amad’s instant impact last week, Pogba made his boss look good.
His hand may have been forced somewhat by Rashford’s fitness, but Solskjaer still brought on the right player, in the right role.
United need to keep Pogba
If it was not obvious enough already, this match highlighted how much United need Pogba to sign a new contract.
The Frenchman’s current deal expires in June 2022, and there is no obvious progress on him signing a renewal.
United shouldn’t give up on trying to convince him to stay. It is imperative to the success of this team that he stays. Finding a replacement won’t be easy at all.
His performance tonight, in this big, glamour tie, may conversely help tempt bidders and raise his price tag, but United should be fully focused on trying to retain his services.
We have seen what United look like without him, and it isn’t pretty.
Praise for United’s defence
United’s defensive record has been strong lately and the players delivered tonight, with a crucial clean sheet.
Victor Lindelof made a vital contribution in the first half when Milan were through on goal, and goalkeeper Dean Henderson made an outstanding save from Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the second half.
Milan had their moments, but United always felt in control. Once we went 1-0 up, it always felt like we were going to go on and win.
Bring on the quarter-finals
This was a big win, and it showed United can emerge victorious in these matches, when it matters.
Next up is a FA Cup quarter-final against Leicester on Sunday, and this win gives us so much momentum for that fixture.
There will also be a Europa League draw for the last eight. Tottenham were eliminated tonight along with Rangers, with Arsenal now being the only other British side remaining in the competition. United should not fear anyone.
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