Manchester United 1 Young Boys 1
Ralf Rangnick continued to assess his first team squad in a Manchester United performance that will have done little to advance the causes of most of his fringe stars.
Mason Greenwood, whose early goal handed United the lead in their final Champions League group game, was one of the few senior stars who will have given the new Reds manager food for thought ahead of the weekend trip to Norwich.
But as Rangnick selected an entirely different line-up in a competition in which his team had already booked their place in the next stage, the veteran coach may have started to learn about some of his first team squad’s limitations.
A team showing 11 changes from Rangnick’s first game in charge, in his debut win against Palace on Sunday, needed little time to race into the lead through Greenwood.
It came from a devastating early attack down the left flank, sparked by Anthony Elanga’s clever pass to overlapping full-back Luke Shaw in the ninth minute.
The England defender’s cross picked out Greenwood, some 10 yards from goal, but was behind the striker who performed spectacularly in hooking the ball back and volleying past goalkeeper Guillaume Faivre.
It was the perfect start for Rangnick who, of course, had seen his team keep their first Old Trafford clean sheet since April in the win over Palace and was still preaching his defence-first philosophy.
That was going to be a big ask, given the wholesale changes the German coach had decided to make but, at the other end, there was little to warm the home crowd inside the opening half-hour apart from a Juan Mata free-kick which cleared the wall and the goal by yards.
More importantly, the clean sheet he was hoping to record disappeared three minutes before the interval when Fabian Rieder equalised for the visitors.
Donny van de Beek gave the ball away, from a Nemanja Matic pass, and the Swiss midfielder unleashed an unstoppable shot from the edge of the area which gave Dean Henderson no chance in the United net.
It was a disappointing end to the half for Rangnick and might have ended in an even bigger disaster after poor defending gifted the ball to Michel Aebischer who set up Jordan Siebatcheu for an effort which Eric Bailly blocked.
United failed to clear the danger and Aebischer’s follow-up attempt was diverted away from goal by another strong piece of defending from Bailly.
Perhaps such a disjointed performance was to be expected and, indeed, United might have been left to regret not doubling their lead after 32 minutes before their late first half collapse.
Greenwood made a brilliant run down the left-hand by-line before pulling the ball back for Jesse Lingard who moved the ball to Amad Diallo who hesitated and passed up the chance of a shot with the goal seemingly at his mercy.
Greenwood also did spectacularly well in carving out a chance for Mata which brought a fine diving block by keeper Faivre a couple of minutes later.
But the Swiss, managed by former Huddersfield manager David Wagner and still with a chance of finishing third and qualifying for the Europa League, grew in confidence as the half wore on and could have levelled well before their opening goal.
Rieder’s long shot was straight at Henderson and Christoher Martins was presented with a couple of strikes from the edge of the area which again threatened without forcing the United keeper into any spectacular action.
The second half opened with the lively Elanga doing well to test Faivre with a cross which the keeper did well to palm away while the equally dangerous Siebatcheu took a Martins pass, turned and shot just wide.
Greenwood remained threatening with a low shot which the Young Boys keeper saved comfortably enough but Rangnick’s decision to field what amounted to 11 complete strangers was proving a difficult one to overcome.
It did not prevent United from creating the best chance of the second half, just before the hour, when Diallo and Lingard linked well to play in the unmarked Elanga who should have done better than strike his effort at the keeper.
True to the pattern of the game, however, Meschak Elia was soon presented with a glorious chance at the other end, rolling a shot just wide of the diving Henderson and the United goal.
Young Boys could sniff the prospect of an upset, and repeating the win they collected over United in the opening group game, and made a triple substitution just after the hour.
Vincent Sierro’s corner picked out Fabian Lustenberger who volleyed over wildly and Silvan Hefti set up a glorious chance for Quentin Maceiras who poked a superb chance wide of the goal.
At least Rangnick had no concerns about United qualifying from the group and was able to experiment further, throwing on young forward Shola Shoretire and former England keeper Tom Heaton, who replaced Henderson and made his debut for the Reds at the age of 35.
MAN UNITED (4-2-2-2): Henderson 6 (Heaton 66, 6); Wan-Bissaka 5, Matic 5, Bailly 7, Shaw 6 (Mengi 61, 7); Van de Beek 5, Mata 7 (Savage 89); Lingard 6 (Iqbal 89), Amad 6 (Shoretire 67, 6); Greenwood 8, Elanga 7.
YOUNG BOYS (4-2-3-1): Faivre 8; Maceiras 6, Camara 6 (Lauper 76, 6), Lustenberger 6, Lefort 6; Martins 7, Aebischer 7 (Sierro 62, 5); Elia 6 (Maier 86), Rieder 7 (Hefti 62, 6), Ngamaleu 6; Siebatcheu 7 (Kanga 62, 5).
Referee: B Bastien (France) 7.