Manchester United’s historically youthful side failed to excel away at Astana, with the Kazakhstan champions securing a 2-1 victory courtesy of a goal from Dmitriy Shomko and an unfortunate own-goal from debutant Di’Shon Bernard, which canceled out Jesse Lingard’s impressive early strike.
It was a game of many firsts on either end of the spectrum with United’s youngest side conceding the club’s first goals and defeat in the Europa League this season.
Astana’s win came at the back of a brilliant domestic campaign and even though they are effectively eliminated from Group L, the bragging rights of having defeated Manchester United to secure their first European points this season will mean a lot to the home supporters.
However, the entire fixture could have gone differently had Tahith Chong scored an easy goal into an open and waiting net in the 54th minute. Less than 40 seconds after that youngster’s folly, Astana secured their goal and seven minutes later a constant offensive press saw Bernard chest the ball beyond Lee Grant into his own net to concede the definitive own-goal.
Fans took to social media to heap plenty of comments upon Chong’s fateful mistake.
Luke Shaw & Tahith Chong are prime examples of how major injuries to young players can ruin careers.
— ً (@utdrobbo) November 28, 2019
HOW DID CHONG MISS THAT…. I just can’t defend you anymore Chong.. wow.
— Don Martial (@Unitedevil1) November 28, 2019
Astana only one of three Europa League teams without a point. Chong – who is stalling on a new #mufc contract – has again not done anything to suggest he would be a major loss. Doubt it'll be Pogba Mk.II if he does go.
— Samuel Luckhurst (@samuelluckhurst) November 28, 2019
Most of the tweets were critical of the miss and in disbelief of the youngster’s ability. The link to Juventus and the repeated Paul Pogba comparisons were fondly rubbished as well.
United went into the second half with a conservative approach, content with passing the ball around and hoarding possession, which Astana took full advantage of.
The 7 full debuts during the game could have a lasting impact on the club’s future as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is eager on providing chances to the academy graduates.
As for Chong, performances like these and the looming links with Juventus may paint an increasing likelihood that he may not be a Red Devil for much longer.