Mason Greenwood wrote his name into the record books as Manchester United's youngest-ever goalscorer in European competition after netting his first senior goal to help United beat FC Astana 1-0 in the 2019/20 UEFA Europa League at Old Trafford on Thursday night.
The 17-year-old's second-half strike helped a team featuring nine changes from Saturday's 1-0 Premier League win over Leicester City ensure the winners of this competition in 2017 set the early pace in Group L.
United predictably owned possession from the off against an Astana team putting nine men behind the ball. The hosts dominated, but their play left a lot to be desired.
Rashford went close from a free-kick and was also denied by a fine stop from Nenad Eric when one on one. Aside from Rashford, United weren't getting enough men into threatening positions in the danger areas.
It didn't help there was a curious shape to the home side's front three. Marcus Rashford occupied the middle, while Greenwood, a prolific centre-forward at academy level, was shunted out wide, where he rarely looked comfortable.
In fairness to the players up top, there was a lack of quality service, particularly from wide areas. Raiding right-back Diogo Dalot was never shy about getting forward, but his poor final decisions were raising the ire of manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer:
Things didn't improve immediately after a goalless first half, with Greenwood still looking lost out wide following the restart. United were still struggling to move the ball quickly enough between the lines to drag the visitors out of their compact shape.
At least Angel Gomes was looking confident and accomplished on the ball in midfield:
The 19-year-old continued to exert his influence after the break, showcasing plenty of deft touches and neat, intelligent passing. Yet even with Gomes catching the eye, United struggled to manufacture clear-cut chances.
The best the home side managed was forgotten man Fred going close from a free-kick. Solskjaer then asked experience to bail United out when he brought on Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata for Gomes and fellow 19-year-old Tahith Chong.
Despite the arrival of two senior players, it was one of the youngsters who made the difference when the previously quiet Greenwood struck on 73 minutes. A neat piece of skill fashioned a shooting chance, one the teenager took with expert coolness.
In the process, Greenwood made club history:
United went close to doubling the lead when a Lingard effort struck the bar and Dalot fluffed his lines from the rebound. Lingard also went close when Greenwood played him in late on, only for Eric to stand tall once again.
The Red Devils made it over the line, but Solskjaer's refreshed group looked far from impressive doing it, bar Greenwood, who offered a timely reminder of his match-winning quality in front of goal.
The Red Devils are away to West Ham United in domestic action on Sunday, while Astana face Zhetysu at home on the same day. Both teams return to the Europa League on Oct. 3, when United travel to face AZ Alkmaar and Astana host Partizan Belgrade.