Manchester United beat FC Sheriff Tiraspol 2-0 in the second group stage match of the UEFA Europa League in Moldova. Jadon Sancho scored the opening goal, assisted by Christian Eriksen with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring a penalty – his 699th club career goal.
United started well against their Moldovan opposition but Tyrell Malacia was penalised for a foul with the home side getting a free-kick – which came to nothing. There was some good play for United from there but no real chances in the game.
United’s 600 travelling supporters started to make themselves heard in the early stages of the match, which then seemed to give some inspiration for the players on the pitch. United opened the scoring in the 17th minute of the match with Jadon Sancho scoring his third goal of the season.
Christian Eriksen was the provider for the goal after a David De Gea free-kick second before, playing the ball into the English winger, who was not called up by Gareth Southgate for the upcoming internationals. His loss. United were off the mark in this match – at last.
Sheriff almost scored the equaliser in the 22nd minute of the match but it was not to be for Iyayi Atiemwen after he received the ball, rounded Scott McTominay and taking a couple of touches before seeing his shot miss the target.
In the 27th minute, Lisandro Martinez fouled Abou Ouattara giving away a fee-kick. Atiemwen took the set piece and once again missed the target in this match. United needed to be careful as they have beaten Real Madrid in the Champions League last season.
Cristiano Ronaldo missed the target in the 33rd minute of the match as United were seeking to double their lead. Jadon Sancho had another shot on goal in the 37th minute of the match but saw it blocked. United were seeking to step up their game late in this half.
United wanted a penalty after Diogo Dalot was seemingly fouled by Patrick Kpozo, who was then shown the yellow card with the penalty awarded. Ronaldo stepped up to score his first goal in the UEFA Europa League, his 699th club goal and his first of the season.
United led 2-0 at half time and were seemingly doing all they needed to get the three points in the bag in this match. At the start of the second half, Ten Hag made his first substitution with Casemiro replacing McTominay, seeking to have more control of the match in the midfield.
In the 48th minute, Bruno Fernandes had an effort on goal but the Sheriff goalkeeper made the save easily. Casemiro then conceded a free-kick before Fernandes had another chance in the 50th minute, which missed the target completely.
Atiemwen was the second Sheriff player to be booked in the match, getting his yellow card in the 63rd minute after a foul on Malacia. The momentum in the match had died down at this stage of the match with United 2-0 up, but with more that could be done.
In the 70th minute of the match, Ten Hag made his second substitution of the match with Luke Shaw replacing Dalot, which saw Malacia switched to the right-back position for the remainder of the match. Sheriff made some changes in the 73rd minute of the match.
Felipe Vizeu and Pernambuco replaced Ibrahim Rasheed and About Ouattara as the home side looked to get themselves back into the match. United were still on top, having more than 500 passes with more than 420 being successful. De Gea made his first save in the 75th minute.
Ten Hag made his third substitution of the match in the 81st minute in which Anthony Elanga replaced Ronaldo. Sheriff also made a third substitution with Salifu Mudasiru replacing Atiemwen. United, despite not playing as well as they were earlier in the game were still doing enough.
Sheriff won a free-kick in the 88th minute of the match, which could have got them something but De Gea, who had his positioning spot on, made the save easily to deny the home side from scoring the goal. Sheriff then had a long-range shot, which was well over the target.
Ten Hag made a double substitution in the 90th minute with Alejandro Garnacho and Harry Maguire replacing Antony and Martinez. The match ended in a victory for United, three points in the bag this evening. Real Sociedad beat Omonia Nicosia 2-1 in the other match.
David De Gea: Made two saves, the first in the 75th minute of the match, keeping a clean sheet against Sheriff. He will be well please getting his second clean sheet of the season but the time between now and their next match could cause problems. ★★★★★★
Diogo Dalot: The Portuguese right-back did what he needed to do against Sheriff, which on paper was going to be a tough match with no history between United and Moldovan teams. Dalot won the penalty with Ronaldo scored to put United 2-0 up. Replaced by Shaw. ★★★★★★
Raphael Varane: I felt that he was good with the ball at his feet and he drove forward at times, helping the attack. Defensively, he was not really tested and seemed so comfortable doing his thing, which seems to be done on the down low. Great player. ★★★★★★★
Lisandro Martinez: Seemed to show a lot of aggression which the commentators seemed to hate at times. Gave away a free-kick to Sheriff in the first half, which provided nothing for them. Did all he needed to do in the match and showed plenty of desire and leadership at the back. ★★★★★★★
Tyrell Malacia: Did well at left-back although he was fouled a few times. He was energetic and combative down the left flank and communicated well with Martinez when he wanted to go forward or drift into a more central area of the pitch. A great signing. ★★★★★★★
Scott McTominay: The Scotland international played well against Sheriff at times. He was pressed by Atiemwen at times but did what he needed to do on the pitch. He played well with Eriksen and could form a good midfield partnership with him. Replaced by Casemiro. ★★★★★★★
Christian Eriksen: What a player the Denmark international is. To think that after what he has been through has not fazed him one bit. If only United signed him instead of Paul Pogba in 2016. He provided the assist for Sancho’s opener. ★★★★★★★★
Antony: He was not at his best but that might take time. He showed his nifty footwork at times and was involved in the first goal but from there, he has a lot to do to become another star in this team. Sancho had more to give in this match, setting an example. ★★★★★★
Bruno Fernandes: He interchanged his position with Ronaldo at times, to try and get something from the match by stretching the defence. It did not work all that well. I feel that he needs to be doing more to get his form back – he needs goals and assists now. ★★★★★★
Jadon Sancho: Scored a great goal in the 17th minute of the match, assisted by Eriksen. It was his third goal of the season. He could have scored another later in the match but did not get enough on the ball. He needs to fine more goals and assists this season though. ★★★★★★★★
Cristiano Ronaldo: Scored his first goal of the season, which was also his first in the Europa League and his 699th club career goal. He showed his energy and desire and looks set to meet the pace of the team after missing pre-season this summer. Replaced by Elanga. ★★★★★★★
Casemiro: Replaced McTominay 46′. Got another 45 minutes of football under his belt after he signed for United in the summer. He is still settling in. It was never going to be an immediate performance for him as new tactics are at play. He will get there. ★★★★★★
Luke Shaw: Replaced Dalot 70′. Got 20 minutes under his belt returning from injury. He could feature for England in the coming weeks. He made little impact and his introduction resulted in Malacia being switched to the right-back position. ★★★★★★
Anthony Elanga: Replaced Ronaldo 81′. The Swedish forward made an opening in the match but got nothing from it. He has the energy and the pace to frighten his opposition but in terms of output – he needs to improve that massively. A good talent at the moment though. ★★★★★★
Alejandro Garnacho: Replaced Antony 90′. Came on in the last minute of the match. Had no time to make a real impact. He should be playing more minutes than this and could have come on for the last ten minute or something. The would have been good to see. ★★★★★
Harry Maguire: Replaced Martinez 90′. Came on in the last minute of the match like Garnacho. Had not time to get stuck in or do what he needed to do to try and get back into the team – which would be a lot considering the form of Martinez, whom he replaced. ★★★★★
Goals: Jadon Sancho 17′, Cristiano Ronaldo 39′ penalty
Assists: Christian Eriksen 17′
Manchester United: De Gea; Dalot (Shaw 70′), Varane, Martinez (Maguire 90′), Malacia; McTominay (Casemiro 46′), Eriksen; Antony (Garnacho 90′), Fernandes, Sancho; Ronaldo (Elanga 81′)
Substitutes Not Used: Heaton, Vitek; Lindelof; Fred, Iqbal; McNeill
Bookings: Patrick Kpozo 38′, Iyayi Atiemwen 63′
Written by John Walker