Manchester United booked a place in the knockout stages of the Europa League with an emphatic 3-0 victory over Partizan Belgrade.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side scored more than one goal at Old Trafford for the first time since the opening weekend win over Chelsea.

We scored two goals in the first half at home for the first time since January, it was a performance full of movement, interplay and attacking intent.

The Serbian side simply couldn’t handle the tempo set by the hosts and were blown away, if it wasn’t for Partizan goalkeeper Vladimir Stojković, it could have been an embarrassing scoreline.

Here are five players that were at the heart of United’s positive performance.

Fred

(Photo by John Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images)

The Brazilian had another productive evening in the Europa League and kept up his impressive form in the competition.

United’s number 17 was always looking forward in possession and shifted the ball quickly to get his attacking teammates on the ball in dangerous areas.

The decision to bring Fred off in the second half on the hour mark shows the growing influence and importance he is bringing to this team.

With Paul Pogba returning next month, Solskjaer could stick with the blossoming partnership of Fred and Scott McTominay and give Pogba the opportunity to influence matches in the number 10 position.

Juan Mata

(Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images)

The little Spaniard produced his best performance in a United shirt for a long time, he was at the heart of our interplay.

There have been too many times this season where Mata has been coming too deep to get on the ball, but against Partizan he proved the perfect link to unleash the talented trio of Greenwood, Rashford and Martial.

The quick one and two touch passing is what Mata relishes and it was no coincidence that United’s number 8 looked at his most threatening when there were a number of runners off the ball.

With the number 10 position in United’s starting line up remaining up for grabs, Mata could be rewarded for an energetic and impressive display with a start against Brighton.

Mason Greenwood

(Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images)

United’s young star was on the periphery of the game before his clinical and composed finish gave his team the lead, which opened the floodgates.

 

It was Greenwood’s second Europa League goal of the season after his strike against Astana, but he was coolness personified.

The 18-year-old showed why Solskjaer believes he has a great career ahead of him, when the ball inadvertently broke to him, Stojković had no idea where Greenwood was going to shoot and was totally deceived.

Greenwood also played a key part in United’s crucial second goal, his hassling and pressing from the front resulted in his block falling perfectly for Martial, who conjured up some wizardry with his dazzling quick feet.

The most important thing for Greenwood was another 90 minutes under the belt for him at senior level as his development continues.

Marcus Rashford

(Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images)

Rashford could have had four or five goals against Partizan, and he arguably scored his most difficult chance.

The pleasing thing for Solskjaer would have been how many clear cut chances United created and the dangerous positions his forwards were able to get in on a frequent basis.

Rashford finished the match with 6 shots, 4 of which were on target and 5 successful take-ons, he constantly put the Serbian side on the back foot with his mazy, pacey and direct runs.

He has now been directly involved in 5 goals (4 goals and 1 assist) in his last 3 matches in all competitions.

His powerful left-foot first time finish will only enhance his ever growing confidence.

Anthony Martial

(Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

After an ineffective display against Bournemouth, Martial looked back to his sharp best on Thursday night.

There were times when Rashford and Martial were linking up with quick one touch passing that the Partizan players were sat back admiring, they weren’t, they just simply couldn’t get near the pair.

When the ball fell to Martial in the build up to United’s second, you sensed the panic in the Partizan defence, when the opposition are on the back foot and forced into making a quick decision, that is when Martial’s twinkle-toes can destroy teams.

The Frenchman like Rashford was constantly looking to make runs in behind the Partizan defensive line and that needs to be a constant theme for every game to stretch teams.

The former Monaco man also had an impressive evening holding the ball up and bringing his team mates into play. He needs to replicate this against Brighton and help create those pockets of space.

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