A heavily rotated Manchester United team held Young Boys to a 1-1 draw in their Champions League group closer on Wednesday, ending the Swiss side’s involvement in European competition this season.
A combination of senior fringe players and talented youngsters were given a chance to impress recently hired manager Ralf Rangnick, and Mason Greenwood seized the opportunity more than anyone by volleying United ahead with an acrobatic finish in the ninth minute.
Fabian Rieder equalised in the 42nd, intercepting Donny van de Beek’s weak pass and curling into the top corner from the edge of the area, and Young Boys dominated the second half as the visitors went in search of a winner to keep alive their hopes of finishing third in Group F.
Rangnick even changed goalkeepers in the second half as part of his five substitutions but United, already guaranteed to advance as the group winner, held on.
Young Boys finished in last place, meaning the remaining group game between Atalanta and Villarreal — which was postponed to Thursday because of heavy snowfall in Bergamo — will be a straight shootout to determine which team finishes second and third.
Taking charge of his second game as United manager, Rangnick fielded an entirely different lineup to the one that started the 1-0 win over Crystal Palace on Sunday. Cristiano Ronaldo was left out of the squad altogether, meaning he missed the opportunity to score in all six group games of a Champions League campaign for the second time in his distinguished career.
Greenwood started up front instead and produced a finish of which Ronaldo would have been proud, adjusting his body to meet a cross, by left back Luke Shaw, that was just behind him and delivering a scissor kick into the bottom corner.
With midfielder Nemanja Matic playing out of position at center back and 19-year-old attackers Amad Diallo and Anthony Elanga given starts, United's experimental team was always likely to have moments of sloppiness and incoherence.
And after Juan Mata missed a great chance to make it 2-0, United conceded just before halftime with a goal that was excellently finished by Rieder but completely avoidable.
“What really was a little bit annoying was the way we gave the ball away,” Rangnick said. "This was the case with the goal we conceded.
“In total,” he added, “I wouldn't say happy but it was OK.”