Fellaini’s 91st-minute winner – United’s first home goal in this season’s Champions League – prompted an outburst from Jose Mourinho, who launched a drinks bottle holder into the ground as emotions got the better of him at the end of a frustrating night at Old Trafford.
Mourinho’s side had looked set to waste a gilt-edged opportunity to qualify for the last 16 as a resolute Young Boys came within seconds of holding United to a second goalless draw in three days, after Saturday’s stalemate with Crystal Palace.
The hosts were also thankful for a stunning David de Gea save as the Spaniard clawed the ball from off the goal line after Ulisses Garcia’s shot deflected towards the bottom corner.
But the victory sees them qualify for the last-16 with a game to spare at the expense of Valencia, who drop into the Europa League after defeat at Group H leaders Juventus.
The Old Trafford faithful were made to endure another monotonous first half, with United registering just a single attempt on target in the opening 45 minutes.
Things could have been different had Marcus Rashford found the target after being played through on goal inside five minutes, but the England international’s lofted effort nestled on the roof of the Young Boys goal.
Fred whistled a shot over on six minutes before a neat exchanged played Rashford into space in the area, and he drew David von Ballmoos into a low save.
Chances were few and far between for United but Young Boys staked a late claim for the lead on the stroke of half-time as Djibril Sow’s backheel went wide at the near post.
Man Utd: De Gea (7), Valencia (5), Jones (6), Smalling (6), Shaw (6), Matic (6), Fellaini (7), Fred (6), Lingard (6), Rashford (6), Martial (6).
Subs: Pogba (5), Mata (5), Lukaku (5).
Young Boys: Von Ballmoos (6), Mbabu (6), Camara (6), Von Bergen (5), Benito (5), Lauper (6), Sulejmani (6), Sow (5), Aebischer (5), Assale (5), Nsame (6).
Subs: Ngamaleu (5), Fassnacht (5), Garcia (5).
Man of the Match: Marouane Fellaini.
Young Boys emerged without injured captain Steve von Bergen after the interval but United failed to capitalise on the defensive change.
Fellaini missed an open goal after the ball fell to him on 56 minutes before Jesse Lingard fired an effort straight at Von Ballmoos after the hour.
Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku were dropped to the bench as Jose Mourinho made six changes following the goalless draw with Crystal Palace. Marouane Fellaini and Fred came into midfield, with Marcus Rashford drafted into the attack. Phil Jones and Antonio Valencia made their first starts since September 25 and October 2 respectively, while Luke Shaw returned from a one-game domestic suspension. Young Boys made three changes as Jean-Pierre Nsame, Mohamed Camara and Michel Aebischer started at Old Trafford.
Mourinho brought on Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku on 64 minutes but upping the ante in attack nearly cost United, as a Garcia effort took a couple of deflections and looked set to find the bottom corner until De Gea brilliantly clawed the ball from off the goal line.
Lukaku and Sow missed chances at both ends before Fellaini snatched victory at the death, controlling a long diagonal from Luke Shaw before firing the ball into the bottom corner through the legs of a defender to spark wild celebrations, in the United dug-out at least.
- Manchester United had gone a club record 275 minutes without a home goal in the Champions League before Marouane Fellaini’s late winner.
- Marouane Fellaini’s goal was the first 90th minute winning strike for Manchester United in the Champions League since Cristiano Ronaldo vs Sporting CP in November 2007.
- Young Boys had 11 shots in this match but didn’t manage to get a single one on target.
- Manchester United mustered 21 shots in this match, but just four of these were on target.
- Man Utd’s Romelu Lukaku had just nine touches in his 26 minute sub appearance, but one of these was the assist for Marouane Fellaini’s winner.
Man of the Match – Marouane Fellaini
The Belgian and De Gea were the only United players to do anything of note throughout a tough watch. Fellaini surprised many with his effectiveness in advanced positions, particularly in the first half, and showed great composure to take his goal as he bailed Mourinho out yet again.
United travel to St. Mary’s for a tea-time kick-off with Southampton on Saturday, while Young Boys make the trip to title rivals FC Basel on Sunday at 6pm.