Manchester United carved out a two-point lead at the top of Group L with a 1-0 win at Partizan on Matchday 3 courtesy of Anthony Martial's penalty.
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Manchester United carved out a two-point lead at the top of Group L with a 1-0 win at Partizan on Matchday 3 courtesy of Anthony Martial's 43rd-minute penalty, and they will hope to strengthen their position as the Serbian Cup winners visit Old Trafford having dropped to third place in the standings.
• United's seven-point tally is largely attributable to three clean sheets. They have scored just two goals, teenager Mason Greenwood finding the net in an opening 1-0 win at home to Astana before they drew 0-0 away to AZ Alkmaar. Partizan also drew against AZ, 2-2 in Belgrade on Matchday 1 thanks to a double from UEFA Europa League stalwart Bibras Natcho, before Umar Sadiq struck twice to earn a 2-1 win at Astana.
• The clubs' Matchday 3 encounter was their first since the 1965/66 European Cup semi-final, which Partizan won 2-1 on aggregate despite a second-leg 0-1 defeat in Manchester.
• Prior to the 24 October meeting Manchester United last faced Serbian opposition in the 1991 UEFA Super Cup, a one-off match played at Old Trafford and won 1-0 by the home team with a Brian McClair goal. That made it three home wins out of three for United against Serbian opposition, the first having resulted in a 2-1 victory against Crvena zvezda in the first leg of a 1957/58 European Cup quarter-final that will forever be overshadowed by tragedy as the second leg in Belgrade – which completed a 5-4 aggregate win – was the last match played by the famous Busby Babes before the Munich air crash on the return journey.
• Partizan have managed just four wins in 16 games against English clubs (D1 L11), the most recent of those – 1-0 at Newcastle United in the final qualifying round of the 2003/04 UEFA Champions League – being their sole away win in eight visits (L7) and heralding a penalty shoot-out triumph that put them into the competition's group stage for the first time. Their last trip to England brought a 1-0 defeat by Tottenham Hotspur in the 2014/15 UEFA Europa League group stage.
• The three-time champions of Europe finished sixth in the 2018/19 Premier League, which meant direct access to the UEFA Europa League. They were quarter-finalists in last season's UEFA Champions League, going out to Barcelona after a remarkable round of 16 second-leg comeback against Paris Saint-Germain (0-2 h, 3-1 a).
• United have appeared in three previous UEFA Europa League campaigns, but this is only their second group stage start, the previous one three seasons ago having ended in outright victory under manager José Mourinho against Ajax in Stockholm. The Manchester giants exited in the round of 16 on their other two participations.
• The Red Devils are unbeaten in their last ten UEFA Europa League home games (W8 D2), registering four wins out of four at Old Trafford in the group stage. They are currently on a run of 14 matches in the competition without defeat – four shy of the all-time record set last season by domestic rivals Chelsea.
• Third in the Serbian Superliga last term, Partizan won the domestic cup for the fourth year running, defeating league champions Crvena zvezda 1-0 in the final. In Europe they came through three UEFA Europa League qualifiers before losing out to Beşiktaş in the play-offs (1-1 h, 0-3 a).
• This season Partizan entered the competition a round later, defeating Connah's Quay and Malatyaspor and edging past Norwegian side Molde in the play-offs (2-1 h, 1-1 a) to book a sixth group stage berth. After failing to gain further progress on their first four attempts, the Serbian side succeeded on their most recent participation, in 2017/18, before falling in the round of 32 to Viktoria Plzeň (1-1 h, 0-2 a).
• Partizan have lost ten of their 16 away fixtures in the UEFA Europa League group stage, winning just three, all of them, curiously, at teams whose names begin with the letter 'A' – Augsburg (3-1) and AZ Alkmaar (2-1) in 2015/16 and Astana on Matchday 2.
Links and trivia
• Partizan coach Savo Milošević played in England for Aston Villa from 1995–98, joining the Birmingham side from Partizan for a then club-record fee and winning the League Cup in his debut season. He faced Manchester United on six occasions in the Premier League, the first time on his Villa debut in a famous 3-1 win, but did not score against them, three of those games featuring current United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær in the opposition ranks.
• Partizan's Zoran Tošić was a United player from January 2009 until June 2010 but only played five matches for the club.
• Vladimir Stojković (Wigan, Nottingham Forest) and Lazar Marković (Liverpool) have also played in England.
• United midfielder Nemanja Matić has been a Serbia national team-mate of four Partizan players – Tošić, Stojković, Marković and Nemanja Miletić.
• Matić and Marković played together at Benfica in the first half of the 2013/14 season that ended with a Liga triumph. United's Victor Lindelöf also made his Benfica debut in that campaign.
• Manchester United are one of three former UEFA Europa League winners in this season's group stage, along with Porto and Sevilla.
• United are one of two teams yet to concede a goal in this season's group stage, along with Sevilla (Group A). Indeed, the Red Devils have kept clean sheets in their last four UEFA Europa League matches, starting with the 2017 final win against Ajax. The competition record, shared by four clubs (Arsenal, Napoli, Salzburg and Villarreal), is five.
• United goalkeeper David de Gea turns 29 on the day of the game.
• A former Old Trafford favourite, whose legendary status at the club was confirmed with his added-time winner in the 1999 UEFA Champions League final against Bayern München, Solskjær returned to Manchester United as interim manager in December 2018, replacing Mourinho, before securing the position on a permanent basis the following March. A former Norwegian international striker renowned for his predatory goalscoring, he won six Premier League titles as a United player and established his reputation as a coach in his homeland with Molde.
• Short of managerial experience but a key figure at the club with whom he started his career in the early 1990s, Milošević was appointed as Partizan's head coach in March 2019 and within less than two months had steered the Belgrade club to victory in the Serbian Cup. A powerful left-footed striker, he scored 37 goals in 102 international appearances, five of them for Yugoslavia at UEFA EURO 2000, where he was the tournament's joint top marksman. He left Partizan for Aston Villa in 1995 and later played in Spain (Zaragoza, Espanyol, Celta Vigo, Osasuna) and Italy (Parma) before ending his career with a Russian league title at Rubin.