Manchester United v Omonia Nicosia: Europa League – live

Key events

“Hello Rob,” says Kári Tulinius. “Francis Uzoho, unfortunately, made an error against Ghana that cost Nigeria a berth at the World Cup. Which is a shame, because he seems like an absolutely brilliant goalkeeper who makes very watchable saves. I hope that he gets snapped up by a club in a league where I could see him play more often.”

Half-time reading

Half time: Manchester United 0-0 Omonia Nicosia

Manchester United have had one or two frustrating halves in the decade since Sir Alex Ferguson retired, and here’s another to add to the list. Francis Uzoho made some excellent saves, most notably when he tipped Casemiro’s heatseeker onto the crossbar, but United were nowhere near their best and could have fallen behind just before half-time.

45 min Fernandes’s dipping free-kick from the left is headed a few yards wide by Casemiro. That was a decent chance, though not as good as the one he had at Everton on Sunday.

43 min Another near miss for Omonia! Dalot’s dodgy pass runs towards Kakoullis, with de Gea in no man’s land 25 yards from goal. Martinez leans into Kakoullis and sends him flying, and the referee is happy that it’s a fair challenge. I think he’s right.

42 min: Chance for Bruno! Omonia should be in front. Bruno scorches past Lindelof on the left, into the area, but then toebungs a wretched shot wide of the near post. He had Kakoullis screaming for a tap-in at the far post.

Bruno wastes a big chance for Omonia. Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA

41 min “The 4-2-3-1 you mentioned staples two midfielders to the defensive 18-yard box,” says Ben Barclay. “Now with Casemiro on board, what do you think of United switching to a 4-3-3 which would pull Fernandes back into midfield connection, and push Eriksen further up? Like City with Rodri?”

I prefer that formation – I suspect ten Hag does too, more importantly – but I just don’t think you can play it with Fernandes. He’s a No10 rather than a No8.

39 min: Great chance for Fred! Antony cuts inside from the right and arrows a flat cross towards Fred, who flicks a header over the bar from eight yards. That was probably the best chance so far.

39 min Antony lobs a pass over the top towards Ronaldo, but Miletic does well to shepherd it through to Uzoho.

38 min See 35 min.

36 min Malacia’s fierce cutback is turned over the bar by Ronaldo, eight yards out. It was a half chance at best as the ball was behind him.

35 min The camera cuts to Erik ten Hag, who looks… displeased.

33 min: Casemiro hits the bar! Out of nothing, Casemiro whistles an insouciant rising drive from 25 yards that clatters off the top of the crossbar. In fact, Uzoho got a touch on it with his left hand as he dived past the ball. That’s a terrific save.

32 min Dalot plays a short pass to Ronaldo, back to goal on the edge of the area. He shifts it neatly away from Miletic and hits a left-footed shot on the turn that goes a few yards wide of the far post. A nice effort.

30 min It hasn’t been a particularly good performance from United so far, though they should be ahead. There’s still a lack of wit against deep-lying defences, especially with Eriksen and Sancho on the bench.

29 min “Strength and conditioning coach for a mid-ranked Championship team?” sniffs Simon McMahon. “I suppose that’s why you’re doing the MBM and I’m emailing it, Rob. Club mascot for a barely surviving Scottish League Two side would have done me. Baxter the Bridie or Bluebell the Coo, can you hear me?”

28 min Rashford v Uzoho, part three. Rashford cuts inside from the left, 20 yards from goal, and rifles a shot towards the far corner. Uzoho sees it late but just manages to fingertip it round the post. That’s an excellent save.

27 min “Speaking of cushy jobs on club staffs, our local team here, the Philadelphia Union, hired their own club tattooist a few years ago,” says Justin Kavanagh. “Although, if United were to do so, that’d be some expensive canvas on which to get creative, bringing its own pressure. Or ‘presssshhhure’, as I’m sure Steve McClaren would pronounce it.”

25 min Dalot fires a good pass into Fernandes, unmarked 25 yards from goal. He shifts the ball to the side and whips a lovely curling shot that goes just wide of the far post. The keeper didn’t move.

24 min Rashford and Ronaldo have shots blocked in quick succession, the former after some lovely skill near the byline.

22 min: Excellent save by Uzoho! Fernandes wins the ball high up the field, plays a one-two with Ronaldo and then slips the ball across to Rashford in the area. His left-footed shot, a slightly tame effort, is well blocked by the outrushing Uzoho.

Francis Uzoho blocks an effort from Rashford.
Francis Uzoho blocks an effort from Rashford. Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA

21 min Malacia’s cross is too deep for Fernandes, who complains that he was blocked by Panayiotou. The referee isn’t interested.

19 min Ronaldo tries to alleviate the boredom by wandering out to the left and finding the overlapping Malacia. His cross is blocked.

19 min This isn’t the greatest game in the history of football.

16 min Antony cuts inside and shapes a decent cross that is nutted away by Miletic at the far post.

13 min Dalot is lucky to avoid a yellow card for a foul on Bruno. Omonia have started pretty well.

12 min “So suddenly ten Hag has decided that two defensive midfielders are needed against Omonía and weren’t needed against Man City,” says Richie Patterson. “Doh.”

I know what you mean but I think that’s slightly unfair. The shape was 4-2-3-1 in both games; if anything Fred is playing further forward than Eriksen does.

11 min Fernandes takes the corner short, gets it back and whacks a cross shot that flashes through the six-yard box.

10 min Rashford sits Miletic down in the area with a nice piece of skill and curls a shot that hits Morteo Cassama and loops over the bar.

9 min: Chance for Ronaldo! Rashford collected a loose ball 25 yards out and slid it through the inside-left channel for Ronaldo. He took the shot first time with his left foot but screwed it into the side netting.

Cristiano Ronaldo wastes an early chance.
Cristiano Ronaldo wastes an early chance. Photograph: Phil Noble/Reuters

8 min Dalot’s inswinging cross is too heavy for Rashford at the far post.

6 min It’s a bit stop-start at the moment. United don’t really do fast starts anymore.

4 min “I wonder if Frederico Fred is feeling upstaged by Charalampos Charalampous,” says Peter Oh. “And imagine if the substitute Loizos Loizou comes on.”

Wait till Eric Djemba-Djemba comes back from the metaphorical dead.

2 min Fred has an early long-range shot which goes about 20 yards wide. It did hit a defender, to be fair, so it’s a corner for United. Fernandes takes it short to Rashford, unmarked on the left corner of the area. He curls a nice shot towards the far top corner that is pushed over by Uzoho. Good save.

1 min Peep peep! United kick off from right to left as we watch.

“Is that FC Twente’s Steve McClaren in the top photo?” says Zach Neeley. “Am I wrong that being on a coaching staff could be much more enjoyable than being the actual manager? Get to hang out with amazing players, run drills, stand on the side line looking supportively stern or share in celebrations, without ever having your name in headlines or #ZachOUT social campaigns.”

Well, you do have to do some work, but I know what you mean. My dream was always to be a strength and conditioning coach for a mid-ranked Championship team.

The players are ready for action. It’s a chilly enough night in Manchester. Let’s play!

Elsewhere in the Europa League, the competition favourites Arsenal took another step closer to the last 16.

Football is nothing without fans (2022 remix)

Team news

Only a peedie bit of rotation from Erik ten Hag. Christian Eriksen and Luke Shaw are given a rest, with Fred and Tyrell Malacia coming into the side. Cristiano Ronaldo replaces the injured Anthony Martial up front.

Manchester United (4-2-3-1) de Gea; Dalot, Lindelof, Martinez, Malacia; Casemiro, Fred; Antony, Bruno Fernandes, Rashford; Ronaldo.
Substitutes: Heaton, Dubravka, Eriksen, Varane, Shaw, Sancho, Pellistri, Elanga McTominay, Garnacho, Iqbal.

Omonia Nicosia (5-3-2) Uzoho; Matthews, Lang, Miletic, Yuste, Kitsos; Panagiotou, Moreto Cassama, Charalampous; Bruno, Kakoullis.
Substitutes: Panayi, Psaltis, Loizou, Barker, Papoulis, Lecjaks, Ansarifard, Zachariou, Diskerud, Venizelou, Savva, Bezus.

Referee Jerome Brisard (France)


Hello and welcome to live coverage of Manchester United v Omonia Nicosia at Old Trafford. It’s pretty simple: United need to win this and their next home game, against Sheriff, to set up a group decider against Real Sociedad in San Sebastian on 3 November. Then they need to win that game, ideally while scoring at least two goals. Don’t ask me to explain the permutations, that’s not what the internet was invented for.

It’s easy to forget that, in the new, improved Europa League, only one team in each group qualifies automatically for the last 16. The runners-up go into the catchily entitled knockout round playoffs, where they will face one of the eight teams who have dropped out of the Champions League. Potential opponents include Barcelona, Juventus, Milan and Atletico Madrid. If you don’t mind, Uefa, United would rather not. Nice of you to ask though.

United are facing that unwelcome scenario because of a damaging defeat to Real Sociedad on the opening matchday. That’s the only time Erik ten Hag has really rotated since taking over as United manager. Once bitten and all that, but he really should make multiple changes tonight. There’s a big week coming up for United, who face Newcastle, Tottenham and Chelsea in the space of seven days. With the caveat that football is weird and York City can win 3-0 at Old Trafford, this is by far the easiest match of the four.

Kick off 8pm.

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