Manchester United beat Sheriff Tiraspol 3-0 in the penultimate UEFA Europa League group stage match. Diogo Dalot opened the scoring at the end of the first half. Marcus Rashford then doubled United’s lead in the 65th minute before Cristiano Ronaldo sealed the victory in the 81st.
United started well against Sheriff by Tyrell Malacia conceded a free-kick in the fourth minute of the match but the away side did not take advantage of the situation. Casemiro then won a free-kick in the seventh minute of the match, United did not take advantage either.
In the ninth minute of the match, Casemiro missed the target after spotting the goalkeeper off his line. Antony had an attempt on goal in the 11th minute, but the goalkeeper was equal to the ball. United then won a corner, delivered by Christian Eriksen and Casemiro missed the target again.
Cristiano Ronaldo missed the target in the 14th minute of the match, which seemed to be what he was delivering this season, which was a shame. United vastly dominated in terms of having the ball and getting the chances against Sheriff. Rasheed Akanbi was booked in the 22nd minute.
United then started to search for the so far elusive goal. United won a free-kick, which Antony took to no avail in the 24th minute. Bruno Fernandes then missed the target in the 26th minute of the match. Two minutes later, Ronaldo missed his effort on goal.
In the 30th minute, Eriksen also had a chance on goal, so far nothing getting the better of the Moldovan team. Ronaldo saw a shot blocked in the 32nd minute and then United won a corner. Eriksen took it and eventually Alejandro Garnacho saw his shot blocked.
United were still dominating but finding the goal to break the deadlock hard to find. Fernandes missed the target again in the 35th minute. Antony then did some skills on the ball with nobody around him, then sending the ball out of play. Erik ten Hag shook his head in the dugout.
In the 44th minute of the match United had their goal. Diogo Dalot scored from an Eriksen free-kick, celebrating that all important goal. Real Sociedad were drawing with Omonia Nicosia at this point giving United a good chance to try and win the group with a victory over them next week.
At the start of the second half, Ten Hag made a double substitution with Harry Maguire and Marcus Rashford replacing Martinez and Antony. Martinez needed to avoid a yellow card in this match to not sit a suspension in the last match. That was good thinking by the manager.
United started to press for a second goal in this match, winning a free-kick in the 51st minute, which Eriksen took, aiming to curl the ball into the net but he missed the target. Garnacho was then fouled and Eriksen took another free-kick, not getting anything.
Ronaldo then had the ball in the back of the net but was flagged for offside, which seems to be one of the stories of his season. Ten Hag then made another double substitution with Luke Shaw and Scott McTominay replacing Dalot and Casemiro.
Renan Guedes was booked in the 64th minute of the match for a foul. United then doubled their lead in their 65th minute with Rashford scoring his sixth goal of the season, Shaw getting his third assist of the season. United will at least make the knockout play-off round in the Europa League.
United had a few more chances in the match, seeking that elusive third goal of the match. Ten Hag made his final substitution with Donny van de Beek making his return from injury, replacing Garnacho, who was one of the standout players of the match.
Ronaldo was seeking his elusive 701st goal of his club career but it was not happening for them. Then in the 81st minute of the match he shot on goal, but got the rebound into the back of the net to put United 3-0 up in the match, needing a win by two goals to top the group next week.
Harry Maguire was booked in the 84th minute of the match which was perhaps a bit harsh. United continued to attack, dominating the match which was nothing new. United had 23 attempts on goal, none for Sheriff with United having 65% possession. A great victory.
United will once again be at home in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon when they welcome West Ham United to the Theatre of Dreams, seeking another victory in the league before they head to Northern Spain for next Thursday’s showdown with Real Sociedad in the Europa League.
David De Gea: The Spanish goalkeeper could have read a book in this match. He had literally nothing to do as he kept his 172nd clean sheet for the club, three behind Aled Stepney and eight behind Peter Schmeichel. He will be rested for Sunday. ★★★★★★
Diogo Dalot: I would have liked to see him have more involvement in the final third in the first half. He did get there and head in the opening goal and that was good enough for me. What a finish it was. He was replaced just after the hour by Luke Shaw. ★★★★★★★
Victor Lindelof: He did not put a foot wrong against Sheriff and is almost certain to start on Sunday against West Ham United. Played well with Lisandro Martinez and Harry Maguire when he came on later in the match. It was a stable performance for him. ★★★★★★★
Lisandro Martinez: Had little defending to do with Sheriff not having any chances on goal. Would have been suspended from the final match with a booked but got though the first half, in which he was replaced during the break with Harry Maguire getting 45 minutes. ★★★★★★★
Tyrell Malacia: The Dutchman was proactive on his return to the starting XI against Sheriff. He played on the left in the first half and for some of the second, then stepped into the right-back position after Dalot came off. Did well in both positions. ★★★★★★
Christian Eriksen: I think he was the best player on the pitch. A real class act. His passing of the ball was the main reason for all of United’s chances on goal. He got his fourth assist of the season after Dalot headed in his delivery. What a signing he has been. ★★★★★★★★
Casemiro: Since that performance against Everton the Brazilian has been a constant in this team. What a signing he was after a turbulent few matches. He was purposefully both on and off the ball. Came off just after the hour with Scott McTominay replacing him. ★★★★★★★
Antony: Seemed to be tricky on the ball but the showboating was a face/palm moment but also entertaining at the time. Those that want to will find negativity in it. He drew a save from Sheriff but came off at half time, which was preplanned for Sunday’s match. ★★★★★★
Bruno Fernandes: I don’t think he was all that effective in the first half. He was moved to the right during the second half with Rashford in the number ten role, which seemed to work well for United. He played the cross for Ronaldo’s goal, which rebounded so no assist. ★★★★★★
Alejandro Garnacho: He seemed like a player that had many European nights at Old Trafford.Unfazed by anything. What a player he will become. Sheriff fouled him time and time again, which was annoying to see but he is already better than them. ★★★★★★★
Cristiano Ronaldo: The Portuguese forward seemed to be in the zone tonight. He saw himself denied by both the goalkeeper and the linesman but never gave up. He got that 701st club career goal in the end and it was a great finish with the rebound. He still has it. ★★★★★★★
Harry Maguire: Replaced Martinez 46′. Made his first appearance in seven weeks and got a good welcome from the Old Trafford faithful. Did what he needed to do, although he did not need to defend with Sheriff not really attacking. Booked somewhat unfairly. ★★★★★★
Marcus Rashford: Replaced Antony 46′. Scored the second goal of the match, his sixth of the season. He was roaming in behind Ronaldo in the second half and it seemed to work well. He will no doubt start on Sunday against the Hammers. ★★★★★★★
Luke Shaw: Replaced Dalot 63′. Got his third assist of the season for Rashford’s goal in the second half which shows the form he is reaching just in time for the FIFA World Cup. He’s been playing well so far this season but needs to reach the level he reached in 2020/21. ★★★★★★★
Scott McTominay: Replaced Casemiro 63′. He played his part in the run up to United’s second goal of the match. Was applauded when he came on for his goal in the last Europa League match. He’s not a bad player but has so many critics who have not achieved what he has. ★★★★★★
Donny van de Beek: Replaced Garnacho 79′. Came on for the last 11 minutes of the match after a spell on the sidelines through injury. Seems to be a player that does not fit in well but will get a chance to show what he can do for United. Good to have him back. ★★★★★★
Goals: Diogo Dalot 44′, Marcus Rashford 65′, Cristiano Ronaldo 81′
Assists: Christian Eriksen 44′, Luke Shaw 65′
Manchester United: De Gea; Dalot (Shaw 63′), Lindelof, Martinez (Maguire 46′), Malacia; Eriksen, Casemiro (McTominay 63′); Antony (Rashford 46′), Fernandes, Garnacho (van de Beek 79′); Ronaldo
Substitutes Not Used: Heaton, Dubravka; Fred, Iqbal; Sancho, Pellistri, Elanga
Bookings: Harry Maguire 84′; Rasheed Akanbi 22′, Renan Guedes 64′
Written by John Walker