Manchester United fielded a youthful side with qualification to the knockout stages of the Europa League already assured on Thursday evening.
Though the 2-1 loss to Astana would have been a great experience for the academy graduates to get valuable first-team minutes under their belts, though the outcome would not have been what the two first-team players vying for a regular place in the starting eleven were hoping for. Luke Shaw made the 6,000-mile journey and struggled to impose himself against the Kazakhstan Premier League champions.
As the visitors started brightly so did Shaw, as he provided the assist for Jesse Lingard’s striker after just ten minutes. But that was to be the highlight of his evening, Shaw kept possession well as United dominated control of the ball, but his 90.9 per cent pass accuracy was bettered by five of his youthful teammates who started the match.
To his credit, the left-back had the joint second most touches of any player on the pitch, and he did play a further two key passes as well as his assist, but those chances were squandered by wasteful Manchester United finishing.
Shaw was also guilty of missing opportunities, failing to hit the target with his single effort on goal. A senior player of his level would have been disappointed not to have had more success in front of goal against a side who have conceded 15 in five games.
When Astana grew into the game and Shaw was forced to defend, he was outshone by some of the young players around him, Di’Shon Bernard, making his debut, made double the number of interceptions. Bernard also was on hand to make five clearances, while Shaw did so on just two occasions, with the left-back also failing to make a single tackle throughout the defeat.
Thursday evenings stats spell trouble for Shaw who will have been hoping for more appearances in the Premier League this season. It can be challenging to adapt to a squad with so many changes, but as one of the only senior players on the pitch, he really should have set an example.