AZ Alkmaar 0-0 Manchester United
Manchester United battled to a goalless draw in their second Europa League Group L clash against Dutch side AZ Alkmaar at Den Haag’s Car Jeans Stadion.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made eight changes following United’s 1-1 draw with Arsenal on Monday night. David de Gea, Victor Lindelof and Daniel James were the only players to retain their places in the starting line-up, while 19-year-old academy left-back Brandon Williams was given his first start.
United started the game, being played on the plastic pitch at Den Haag because AZ’s stadium is still under repair after part of the roof collapsed, brightly, but without troubling their opponent’s backline.
It was the hosts who were denied an opening goal in the 11th minute when Myron Boadu got his head to Fredrik Midtsjo’s cross and guided the ball past De Gear, but the flag was raised for offside.
De Gea came to United’s rescue on 14 minutes when he palmed away a fierce 20-yard strike from Oussama Idrissi, which was heading towards the bottom left-hand corner of the net.
United managed to work their way back into the contest and they almost went ahead on the half-hour mark when Diogo Dalot played in James and he pulled the ball back to Mason Greenwood, who watched as his goalbound strike was superbly blocked by Ron Vlaar.
AZ Alkmaar responded and Boadu had a golden chance to open the scoring, but could only send his header from six yards straight at De Gea after good work by Calvin Stengs.
Dalot was again the provider for United on 37 minutes when he put in a great cross from the right, which dropped to Angel Gomez, but the youngster saw both his initial effort and a follow-up strike blocked.
Alkmaar started the second half in the ascendancy and Dani de Wit was inches away from converting a dangerous cross from Yukinari Sugawara on 51 minutes, while the hosts had two penalty appeals for handball waved away.
AZ continued to pose a real threat as De Gea was forced to finger-tip Owen Wijndal’s swerving 25-yard effort wide of his goal before Idrissi hit a first-time volley just wide of the United goal on 76 minutes.
With no Video Assistant Referee (VAR), United will feel aggrieved not to have been awarded a penalty when substitute Marcus Rashford appeared to have his legs taken from under him by Stijn Wuytens inside the area on 80 minutes.
Fellow subs Scott McTominay and Jesse Lingard then combined, with the latter seeing a shot on the turn drop inches over the top of the Alkmaar crossbar. Lingard was forced to leave the pitch a minute from the end with what looked like a hamstring problem.
The draw leaves United second in the group – level on four points with leaders Partizan Belgrade – while AZ Alkmaar have two points and are in third.