Ole Gunnar Solskjaer lauded man-of-the-match Brandon Williams after the teenager helped Manchester United edge past Partizan Belgrade and end their 11-match winless run on the road.
United tasted victory away from home for the first time since March’s remarkable Champions League triumph at Paris St Germain by digging deep on a difficult night in Serbia.
Partizan pushed to the death, backed by a raucous home support, but Anthony Martial’s first-half spot-kick proved enough as United came through Thursday’s Europa League clash with a hard-fought 1-0 win.
“Of course, I’m happy now that we can just look forward to the next one,” Solskjaer said after winning on the road for the first time in 33 weeks.
“Try to build momentum. We need to win away from home in the league, but another clean sheet and that gives you a platform to win games from.”
Martial scored the match-winning goal but Williams got the lion’s share of the praise, with the 19-year-old bursting into the box and drawing the game-defining penalty.
It was an impressive performance by the left-back, while full debutant James Garner, 18, came through his baptism of fire impressively.
“They did excellent,” Solskjaer said of the teenagers.
“I thought Jimmy just grew and grew in the game, became better and better.
“And, for me, Brandon was man of the match. He’s been fantastic the few games he’s played. The boy has no fear, he is as brave as a lion and he got us the win.
“In games like these when we get the first goal, we need to learn when to get the second, when to get the third.
“I thought today we had loads of opportunities to make sure we’re in a comfortable lead but we didn’t play that pass forward.
“But Brandon has an absolutely great attitude. The boy is going to be a top, top player.”
It was a much-needed victory having gone 33 weeks without winning away from Old Trafford, with United holding tight in Belgrade as Partizan laid siege on their goal.
“We defended really well, in the box especially,” Solskjaer said.
“I think we showed some grit in that respect. We could have defended better up front, we should have stopped them.
“They pushed us back, we need to get more intensity in our pressing, but, yeah, proud and kept another clean sheet.”
Solskjaer baulked at the suggestion United rode their luck and was quick to praise the home faithful, especially given the pre-match concerns that racism may mar the Group L encounter.
“I don’t know about luck but we had to defend really well,” the Norwegian added.
“I thought their team was really good second half, lots of courage, send men forward, create loads of opponents. We defended well.
“The crowd was unbelievable. I think the crowd should be very proud of their team and the team should be very proud of their crowd because it was an excellent atmosphere.
“You know what we talked about before the game… wow. the fans were great.”
Partizan counterpart Savo Milosevic was rightly proud of his side for their display against United.
“First of all, congratulations to Manchester United for the victory,” the former Aston Villa striker said.
“And even more of a congratulations to our players for everything that they have shown in the 90 minutes.
“I think that it is not an easy task to be equal or even better opponent that Manchester United for the better part of the game and I think they did so and were fantastic.”
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