Manchester United scored four goals inside 12 minutes shortly after half-time to cruise to victory against AZ and finish top of the table.

MANCHESTER UNITED 4-0 AZ ALKMAAR: AS IT HAPPENED

A sublime piece of skill by Andreas Pereira started the move that culminated in captain Ashley Young’s thunderous opener from an acute angle before Mason Greenwood added two clinical finishes either side of Juan Mata’s precise penalty. The visitors, who finish second, had much the better of the chances in the first half, but were unable to resist a succession of rampant attacks from United, falling to their first defeat in this season’s competition.

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Mason Greenwood scored United's fourth goal


Mason Greenwood scored United’s fourth goal©Getty Images

The remarkable scoreline flatters United, but Ole Gunnar Solskjær and his players will not care one bit after sealing top spot in Group L in emphatic style. It proved to be another memorable evening for the excellent Greenwood, who Solskjær will be hard-pressed to leave out against Everton in the Premier League this weekend. Matt Howarth

AZ came here with genuine ambitions to claim all three points and first place in the group. For almost an hour they were the better side and looked on course to cause the upset they craved. But wayward defending, coupled with some excellent finishing from United, led to them being utterly destroyed in the space of 12 minutes. Strangely enough, once the home side’s purple patch was over, the current second-placed side in the Eredivisie once again looked comfortable in possession. Derek Brookman

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Ashley Young after opening the scoring at Old Trafford


Ashley Young after opening the scoring at Old Trafford©Getty Images

Ole Gunnar Solskjær, Manchester United coach: “We made a lot of changes today but I still felt comfortable. We can’t wait for things to happen: we have to make them happen ourselves. We pushed the midfield higher up the pitch and it worked. We want to be positive, we want to take chances. The second half was much, much better. It was a performance we want to build on.”

Juan Mata, Manchester United midfielder: “It feels good, the second half was very good. AZ were good in the first half and we didn’t have rhythm. We started the second half much better and we changed our shape a bit. Every time Mason Greenwood plays, he scores. In training, he might not touch the ball a lot but he is a finisher and a killer in the box. He is a nice kid and I’m very happy for him.”

Arne Slot, AZ coach: “It’s an understatement to say that we had a bad period in the second half, but maybe it shows the class of our opponents. The most important lesson is that it’s all very well to play attractive football, but you can still lose a match within a couple of minutes. We shouldn’t have conceded so many goals in what I thought was a pretty even match overall. The consolation is that we are still in the competition.”

State of play

  • United are through and finish first in Group L.



Mason Greenwood (right)) with fellow scorer Juan Mata


Mason Greenwood (right)) with fellow scorer Juan Mata©Getty Images

  • AZ are through and finish second.

Key stats

  • United have kept a clean sheet in seven of their last eight UEFA Europa League group stage matches.
  • United have won six consecutive home UEFA Europa League group stage matches, scoring 17 times and only conceding once.
  • United are unbeaten in 12 UEFA Europa League home games (W9 D3) after losing their first two in the competition in 2011/12.
  • United have scored 25 goals in their last 11 games in all competitions.
  • AZ failed to score for only the second time in 21 matches in all competitions: the other was a goalless draw against United on Matchday 2.

Line-ups

Manchester United: Romero; Young (Laird 68), Tuanzebe, Maguire (Jones 68), Williams; Garner, Matić; Mata, Pereira, Greenwood; Martial (Chong 59)

AZ Alkmaar: Bizot; Svensson, Clasie, Wuytens, Wijndal; Midtsjø, Stengs, Koopmeiners; Sugawara (Vlaar 68), D De Wit (Druijf 63), Idrissi (Ouwejan 77)


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