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Marouane Fellaini's late strike rescues Man United as Jose Mourinho, attack misfire again

FC's Stevie Nicol says the Man United board cannot keep allowing Jose Mourinho's excuses, with his latest being the players aren't listening to him.

MANCHESTER, England -- Three points on Manchester United's dramatic 1-0 win over Young Boys in Group H of the Champions League.

1. Man United advance to knockout rounds, in spite of performance

That Jose Mourinho felt the need to lift up a basket of drinks bottles and smash it to the floor when Marouane Fellaini scored his stoppage-time winner says everything about how the game went.

Manchester United are into the knockout rounds of the Champions League with a game to spare but it was far from comfortable.

This should have been a stroll against a Young Boys side who have not won a European game away from home since 2014. But just as a host of unwanted records beckoned -- longest winless run at Old Trafford in Europe and longest spell without a goal in Europe at home --Fellaini spun in the penalty to shoot into the far corner. A 90-minute showdown with Valencia to see who qualifies from Group H had been avoided. Just. Relief wasn't the right word.

It wouldn't be Man United if there wasn't some sort of struggle and they went in at half-time with the game goalless. No one was surprised, they have only managed four goals in 10 first halves at Old Trafford this season and just two from open play.

Marcus Rashford, picked as the No. 9, should have made it three when he was sent clean through inside five minutes but his clipped finish cleared the crossbar as well as David von Ballmoos in the Young Boys goal.

You can understand why some supporters are staying away and despite tickets going on general sale last week, there were noticeable chunks of empty seats. You know it's bad when the attendance isn't even read out over the loudspeaker.

Fellaini had a chance to make sure the ending wasn't quite so dramatic but his second-half volley ended up in the Stretford End when it should have been nestled in the net.

But just as the groans of frustration from the sparse crowd were getting louder and louder, Fellaini saved United from embarrassment. Cue Mourinho's wild celebration.

That Jose Mourinho felt the need to lift up a basket of drinks bottles and smash it to the floor when Marouane Fellaini scored his stoppage-time winner says everything about how the game went.

Manchester United are into the knockout rounds of the Champions League with a game to spare but it was far from comfortable.

This should have been a stroll against a Young Boys side who have not won a European game away from home since 2014.

But just as a host of unwanted records beckoned -- longest winless run at Old Trafford in Europe and longest spell without a goal in Europe at home --Fellaini spun in the penalty to shoot into the far corner. A 90-minute showdown with Valencia to see who qualifies from Group H had been avoided. Just. Relief wasn't the right word.

It wouldn't be Man United if there wasn't some sort of struggle and they went in at half-time with the game goalless. No one was surprised, they have only managed four goals in 10 first halves at Old Trafford this season and just two from open play.

Marcus Rashford, picked as the No. 9, should have made it three when he was sent clean through inside five minutes but his clipped finish cleared the crossbar as well as David von Ballmoos in the Young Boys goal.

Marouane Fellaini came through again for Man United, who on the day, probably didn't deserve their victory.
Marouane Fellaini came through again for Man United, who on the day, probably didn't deserve their victory.

You can understand why some supporters are staying away and despite tickets going on general sale last week, there were noticeable chunks of empty seats. You know it's bad when the attendance isn't even read out over the loudspeaker.

Fellaini had a chance to make sure the ending wasn't quite so dramatic but his second-half volley ended up in the Stretford End when it should have been nestled in the net.

But just as the groans of frustration from the sparse crowd were getting louder and louder, Fellaini saved United from embarrassment. Cue Mourinho's wild celebration.

2. Mourinho makes a point with his lineup

The United manager accused his players of lacking desire during the 0-0 draw with Crystal Palace on Saturday and made a point in his programme notes of saying he would pick a team against Young Boys who could play with "their brains and their hearts".

"I want to put a team where I think they can cope well with that happiness of playing a decisive game," he said in his news conference on Monday. "Ability is not enough," was the telling sign off.

He backed up his words with his team selection. Alexis Sanchez, who trained as normal at Carrington on Monday, was left in the stands. Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku were told to warm the bench -- two of six changes that saw Luke Shaw, Antonio Valencia, Phil Jones, Marouane Fellaini, Fred and Rashford in and Matteo Darmian, Victor Lindelof, Ashley Young and Juan Mata out.

Even if it was Young Boys at home in a game Mourinho himself described as "not crucial", dropping Pogba was a message. The Frenchman was substituted after 68 minutes against Palace when United were desperate for a goal. He should be the star of this team -- the face of Mourinho's era. That he is not even guaranteed his place in the team tells you everything about the state of play at Old Trafford. Mourinho can only hope the latest wake-up call lands ahead of a must win game at Southampton on Saturday.

The United manager accused his players of lacking desire during the 0-0 draw with Crystal Palace on Saturday and made a point in his programme notes of saying he would pick a team against Young Boys who could play with "their brains and their hearts".

"I want to put a team where I think they can cope well with that happiness of playing a decisive game," he said in his news conference on Monday. "Ability is not enough," was the telling sign off.

He backed up his words with his team selection. Alexis Sanchez, who trained as normal at Carrington on Monday, was left in the stands. Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku were told to warm the bench -- two of six changes that saw Luke Shaw, Antonio Valencia, Phil Jones, Marouane Fellaini, Fred and Rashford in and Matteo Darmian, Victor Lindelof, Ashley Young and Juan Mata out.

Even if it was Young Boys at home in a game Mourinho himself described as "not crucial", dropping Pogba was a message. The Frenchman was substituted after 68 minutes against Palace when United were desperate for a goal. He should be the star of this team -- the face of Mourinho's era. That he is not even guaranteed his place in the team tells you everything about the state of play at Old Trafford. Mourinho can only hope the latest wake-up call lands ahead of a must win game at Southampton on Saturday.

Paul Pogba was left on the bench by Jose Mourinho, who made a statement with a series of his lineup decisions.
Paul Pogba was left on the bench by Jose Mourinho, who made a statement with a series of his lineup decisions.

3. United again lack composure in front of goal

Five minutes in, just after Rashford has sprinted away to waste a golden chance, Mourinho turned to his bench with his arms folded, shaking his head. It was pure Mourinho theatre as if to emphasise the point that he cannot be held responsible for everything that is going wrong at Old Trafford.

United were wasteful against Young Boys. Rashford should have scored when he was sent clean through by Shaw. Lingard should have done better from the right edge of the penalty area but his cross aimed at Rashford ended up in the stands. Every missed opportunity was met with a glare from Mourinho.

The worrying truth for the Portuguese boss is that absolutely nothing is going right. United struggle to keep out any team which show the slightest ambition. At the other end he can pick any combination of Lukaku, Rashford, Martial, Lingard and Sanchez and the end result is the same. They are among some of the best attacking players in the world but together they look sluggish and frustrated.

Mourinho will try another attacking trio against Southampton on Saturday. There was nothing on show against Young Boys to suggest the end product will be any different. As Palace on Saturday proved, there cannot always be a last-minute winner.

Five minutes in, just after Rashford has sprinted away to waste a golden chance, Mourinho turned to his bench with his arms folded, shaking his head. It was pure Mourinho theatre as if to emphasise the point that he cannot be held responsible for everything that is going wrong at Old Trafford.

United were wasteful against Young Boys. Rashford should have scored when he was sent clean through by Shaw. Lingard should have done better from the right edge of the penalty area but his cross aimed at Rashford ended up in the stands. Every missed opportunity was met with a glare from Mourinho.

The worrying truth for the Portuguese boss is that absolutely nothing is going right. United struggle to keep out any team which show the slightest ambition. At the other end he can pick any combination of Lukaku, Rashford, Martial, Lingard and Sanchez and the end result is the same. They are among some of the best attacking players in the world but together they look sluggish and frustrated.

Mourinho will try another attacking trio against Southampton on Saturday. There was nothing on show against Young Boys to suggest the end product will be any different. As Palace on Saturday proved, there cannot always be a last-minute winner.

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