MAN UNITED 1, YOUNG BOYS 0
Marouane Fellaini’s stoppage-time winner enabled nervy Manchester United to claim a place in the knockout phase of the UEFA Champions League.
On another massively frustrating night at Old Trafford, the Reds laboured until Fellaini scored a hugely important goal.
It spared United having to avoid defeat at Valencia in their final game in group H to proceed to the last 16.
And Fellaini’s goal helped United avoid an unwanted record – four home games in the Champions League without a goal.
After firing blanks against Valencia and Juventus, United could ill afford another against the group’s bottom club whose display was anything like whipping boys as they were a threat with their rapid counter attacks.
United manager Jose Mourinho admitted it was a combination of “frustration and relief” that prompted him to pick up a crate of water bottles and fling them to the ground following Fellaini’s goal.
He said: “I didn’t play for that, 0-0 and be in trouble in the last minute which was so frustrating.
“I was not unhappy with the players, but frustrated we didn’t score.
“My players were tired at the end which I loved as that shows they gave everything.
“There were moments of quality and beautiful football , but there was also a lack of confidence which frustrated us.”
While Fellaini won the plaudits, Mourinho pointed out without Dave De Gea’s incredible late save, there would have been no winning goal.
He described De Gea as “a world-class keeper and the best in the world” adding it is important he stays at Old Trafford as his contract winds down.
Mourinho said: If our ambitions are to be a big club, a winning club, we need the best goalkeeper in the world and best other players.
“I know he wants to stay and his agent is happy to do what the player wants.. The board wants him to stay and hopefully sooner rather than later it will be concluded.”
Mourinho also had a “little curiosity for my lovers and lovers of stats”.
He pointed out he has qualified for the knockout phase of the Champions League for all 14 seasons he has been in the competition.
And in the two seasons, he wasn’t in it, his teams won the Europa League,
Mourinho added it was “an achievement, but not a fantastic one” to be in the last 16 as it was a difficult group in which they could easily have finished third.
United’s manager refused to comment on further criticisms on television by pundit and former Reds’ legend Paul Scholes.
Mourinho made six changes from the side that started Saturday’s home goalless draw against Crystal Palace.
Losing their places were Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku, Juan Mata, Ashley Young, Matteo Darmian and the injured Victor Lindelof.
Elevated to the starting line up were Antonio Valencia, Phil Jones, Luke Shaw, Fred, Fellaini and Marcus Rashford.
Pogba, Lukaku and Mata were, however, on the bench as back-up, but there was no place in the squad for out-of-favour Alexis Sanchez.
There was a sea of yellow at Old Trafford with Young Boys having a boisterous following of 3,500, all wearing yellow rain tops
United missed a glaring change to take a fifth minute lead when Shaw’s long through ball released Rashford who shot over from 18 yards with just the goalkeeper to beat.
Mourinho shook his head in disbelief as United surely won’t get many better openings all night.
Fred then saw a drive narrowly clear the crossbar in a positive opening by the Reds.
Rashford had another two chances, shooting low and straight at keeper David von Ballmoos and then dragging a drive just wide after being set up by Jesse Lingard.
Lingard then had a shot deflected narrowly wide with claims for handball waved away as the breakthrough remained elusive.
Shortly before half time Fred curled a delightful effort narrowly wide following a break by Rashford down the left flank.
In stoppage time Young Boys might have stolen ahead with their first chance of the night as Miralem Sulejmani’s cheeky near-post back-heeled shot flew wide.
Young Boys gained in confidence as the game continued and Kevin Mbabu fired into the side netting as they again went close.
United ought to have taken the lead when keeper Ballmoos failed to claim a high ball, but Fellaini blazed over from nine yards with the goal at his mercy.
The Reds were in need of a lift and mid-half made a double change as Lingard and Fred made way for Lukaku and Pogba, £164 million of talent.
Young Boys were desperately unlucky not to take the lead with 20 minutes left when a shot from substitute Ulisses Garcia took a wicked deflection and forced an unbelievable save from David De Gea to claw out the ball.
Goalline technology showed the ball was inches from being a goal.
United made their third and final change in the 72nd minute when Valencia was replaced by Mata.
Young Boys sensed an upset as Djibril Sow and Christian Fassnacht both fired narrowly over.
Lukaku headed wide, Mata fired over and Chris Smalling headed over, three lukewarm efforts from the mis-firing Reds.
Young Boys had another great chance on the break when substitute Nicolas Moumi Ngamaleu curled a decent goal attempt not far wide.
United’s 91st minute winner was route one and hit and hope as Shaw fired a long ball forward, Lukaku headed it on to Fellaini who produced a neat turn before firing home a low shot from 12 yards.
It brought a huge collective sigh of relief as United had somehow managed to find a way to win a hugely important game. It certainly wasn’t pretty, but the result was all that mattered.