A brilliant display from Francis Uzoho almost earned Omonia a famous point, but a fine late goal from Scott McTominay, in the third minute of injury-time secured United the win and means they still have a good chance of making the knockout stages without the need for a playoff.
United took a while to build momentum, but missed a variety of first-half chances – most notably through Marcus Rashford and Fred, though Casemiro also rattled the bar with a drive from outside the box – or had them saved by Uzoho. Omonia, though, did more than just defen,d and might’ve scored themselves when Bruno Felipe opted to shoot when he had Andronikos Kakoullis free in the middle.
The second half was much the same as the first, United dominating and missing chances, Uzoho stopping everything. But just as it looked like they’d run out of puff, ideas and time, up popped McTominay to save them; it now looks like they will play Real Sociedad for the group in the final round of games.
Manchester United will play worse than they did tonight and win easily. That’s the good news. But the bad news is that their lack of a serious centre-forward will mean that there will more frustrating nights that don’t end with the buzz of a Fergie-time winner.
Cristiano Ronaldo can still score goals, but he is no longer reliable in that aspect, offers little in general play, and is not part of the team’s future; Marcus Rashford lacks a predator’s inclination and is better from the left; and Anthony Martial is often injured and not always in form.
United’s problem is that there are not many obvious targets, and even if there were, the Glazer family’s need to extract money from the club means that there is unlikely to be money for one until the summer at the earliest. So the team can – and probably will – continue its improvement, but until that issue is addressed, it will be limited in what it achieves.
PLAYER OF THE MATCH
Francis Uzoho (Omonia) Enjoyed the match of his life, stopping everything, and you felt for him when the winner went in.
Manchester United: De Gea 6, Dalot 6, Lindelof 6, Martinez 6, Malacia 6, Casemiro 6, Fred 5, Fernandes 5, Antony 5, Ronaldo 5, Rashford 6. Subs: Sancho 7, Shaw 7, Eriksen 6, McTominay 8.
Omonia Nicosia: Uzoho 9, Matthews 6, Lang 7, Miletic 7, Yuste, 7, Kitsos 6, Panagiotou 6, Cassama 7, Charalampous 6, Bruno 7, Kakoullis 6. Subs: Ansarifad 6, Loizou 6, Papoulis 6, Diskerud 6.
Scott McTominay is the first substitute to score an injury-time winner in a European match for Manchester United since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the 1999 Champions League final.
2′ – NOW UNITED HAVE A SIGHT OF GOAL!
Cassama gives it away and Ronaldo snaffles possession just outside the box, squaring to Bruno who moves it one more to Rashford. He should score, but his finish is straight at Uzoho who, to give him his flowers, stands up and spreads himself well. Still, though, Rashford did very little to beat him, he just shot without really thinking about what was needed to score.
32’ – UNITED MAINTAIN PRESSURE
Rashford squares to Casemiro, who wallops a drive that Uzoho dives past … but he flings up a hand and tickles the ball onto the bar, which might still be reverberating from the power.
42’ – OH MY DAYS!
United give it away in the final third and one pass from Panagiotou puts Bruno away down the left! He’s got the legs on Lindelof, chugging along behind him, and Kakoullis is free in the middle! But from a tight angle, he opts to shoot for reasons I doubt even he comprehends, sending a tame effort high and wide – to Neil Lennon’s intense displeasure.
46’ – NOW A DOUBLE-SAVE FROM UZOHO!
Ronaldo shifts it cannily, putting Antony in – in his position. But instead of passing into the far corner, first time, he takes a touch which allows the keeper to shove away, then when Rashford mishits the follow-up, he’s able to save that as well, from on the ground! He is having an absolute Friedel here.
59’ – IMMEDIATELY, DE GEA ROLLS OUT TO CASEMIRO
Who uncorks a terrific long diag to Rashford, whose first touch is glorious and takes him from left to centre – he’s in! But opening his body to pass into the far corner, he gets his angles wrong, sending a miserable effort a few yards wide! The ref gives a corner out of sympathy, then signals it went out of play.
90+3’ – GOAL! Manchester United 1-0 Omonia Nicosia (McTominay) Sancho has been good since coming on, or at least done some good things, and he shows incredible composure down the left side of the box when fed by Eriksen, going by Lang, checking then going back down the line, drilling a cross that McTominay kills beautifully with a touch that gets the ball out of his feet and slams home from eight yards! The Ten Hag sub-trick works again!