Manchester United's inconsistent season continued as they slipped to a disappointing 1-0 defeat against Juventus on Tuesday evening.
After a quiet opening 15 minutes, Juventus opened the scoring through Paulo Dybala, who reacted quickest to a loose ball in the Manchester United box to lash the ball beyond the helpless David De Gea.
Juventus looked utterly imperious for the remainder of the first half, keeping the ball away from the hosts effortlessly. They could have easily doubled their lead on a couple of occasions, but De Gea was on hand to bail out the Red Devils with a string of fine saves.
De Gea had to be at his best again early on in the second half, making a stunning top corner save to deny Cristiano Ronaldo.
United, seemingly buoyed by the rapturous home support, found an extra gear for the rest of the second half and came close to equalising when Paul Pogba rattled the post from distance, before the ball rebounded back off Wojciech Szczesny and out for a corner.
That was as close as United got to finding an equaliser, with Dybala's early strike proving to be enough for the visitors.
Key Talking Point
If there was ever a time for the Manchester United players to step up and be counted, this was it.
Unfortunately, it took far too long for the Red Devils to get going. They were far too passive during the first half especially and allowed Juventus to dictate the tempo of the game - something no away side should be allowed to do at Old Trafford.
Whilst the second half was undeniably better, there was still a distinct lack of quality in the final third, which ended up costing Jose Mourinho's men.
Starting XI: De Gea (8); Young (6), Smalling (6), Lindelof (7), Shaw (6); Matic (4), Pogba (5), Mata (5); Rashford (5), Martial (6), Lukaku (4).
Star Man - It is difficult to comprehend where exactly Manchester United would be without David De Gea.
The Spanish goalkeeper put in yet another unbelievable performance and without him Juventus could have easily notched a handful of goals. His second half save from Ronaldo was the pick of the bunch, perfectly highlighting his superb athleticism and reflexes.
DAVID DE GEA 👏👏— 90min (@90min_Football) October 23, 2018
Where would United be without him?
Most fans have been saying it tonight and they couldn't be more right, we definitely don't deserve David De Gea.— Al Foran (@ImpressionistAL) October 23, 2018
De Gea is beyond a sick parody of his own ridiculous limitless ability.— Sam Homewood (@SamHomewood) October 23, 2018
Worst Player - Whilst Nemanja Matic and Paul Pogba were fairly poor in the first half, they did improve when the second 45 minutes rolled around.
The same cannot be said for Romelu Lukaku, who was generally hopeless up top for United throughout the 90 minutes. The Belgian striker's positional movement was poor, his link up play was sloppy and he looked to be a yard behind both of Juve's centre-backs all evening.
Lukaku is getting worse with every match, jokes aside this man needs a rest. He's been playing non stop for club and country.— We're beating Barca. (@Keith_a_Trip) October 23, 2018
Thing about Lukaku's first touch was I don't remember it being this shonky when he was at Everton, or the early part of his first United season. Confidence looks shot/defenders are getting touch tight to him now— Carl Anka (@Ankaman616) October 23, 2018
Lukaku needs to leave in January.— JustVic (@_VSimmons) October 23, 2018
Key Talking Point
There is no getting around the fact now - Juventus must be the outright favourites to lift the Champions League trophy at the end of the season.
The Old Lady were superb in the first half, with every member of the starting XI willing to drift in and out of their positions in order to effectively hold on to the ball.
They rang rings around the United midfield, particularly in the first half, and were more than deserving of the three points.
Starting XI: Szczesny (6); Cancelo (7), Bonucci (8), Chiellini (7), Sandro (7); Bentancur (6), Pjanic (8), Matuidi (7); Caudrado (6), Dybala (8), Ronaldo (6).
Substitutes: Bernardeschi (6), Barzagli (N/A), Costa (N/A).
Star Man - There were plenty of superb performances on show for Juventus, but Miralem Pjanic stood out for his exemplary performance in midfield.
He recycled possession brilliantly in the middle of the park and seemed to understand exactly when to hold on to the ball and when to start an attack on the United goal.
The majority of Juventus' most promising attacks started with Pjanic, and that is no coincidence.
Miralem Pjanic is the best CM on the planet right now, different gravy 🔥🔥— Mike Buckley (@MichaelBuckle17) October 23, 2018
Pjanic is so, so much better than Jorginho.— Un Prophète (@mediocentr0) October 23, 2018
Pjanic is absolute mustard... looks like he’s in a training game... such a clever player— tom doughty (@doughts11) October 23, 2018
Worst Player - It was by no means a poor performance, but Juan Cuadrado was Juventus' least effective forward.
That was largely thanks to the fact that he was forced to track back in order to help out his defence, so very little criticism can be thrown in his direction.
Cuadrado should be behind Costa and Bernardeschi in the pecking order— Matteo Bonetti (@TheCalcioGuy) October 23, 2018
United will now be switching their attentions to a home fixture against in-form Everton as they look to salvage their disappointing start to their Premier League campaign.
As for Juventus, they will be travelling to lowly Empoli on Saturday evening with the hopes that they can keep their unbeaten start to the season going.