Ole Gunnar Solskjaer called on his Manchester United players to “fill their boots” – and they duly obliged.
United sealed their place in the last 32 in style, flattening opponents nicknamed ‘the Steamroller’ with their biggest win since beating Chelsea 4-0 on the opening day of the season.
Goals from Mason Greenwood, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford sealed victory for United, who bounced back following Saturday’s abject 1-0 loss at Bournemouth.
This was a much-needed morale-boosting win for United, who have yet to concede in their four group games, after their mini revival of three straight away wins came to an abrupt end.
Admittedly, Partizan were lamentable and sterner tests certainly await United in the business end of the competition.
But, in the months between now and the resumption of the competition in February, United must find a run of form that can make them a major threat in the knockout stage.
With United languishing in 10th place in the Premier League, 10 points off fourth spot, winning the Europa League is likely to be their best chance of reaching the Champions League.
They achieved that feat in 2017 under Jose Mourinho, and with their place in the next round guaranteed, they have every chance of repeating that success, particularly if they can replicate this performance in the knockout rounds.
Rashford had three clear-cut scoring opportunities inside the first 15 minutes, but was unable to convert any of them as United assumed control from the start.
The goal duly came in the 21st minute, Rashford again at the heart of the move, finding Greenwood with a wonderful pass with the outside of his right foot.
Greenwood, 18, controlled the ball then shifted it back on to his left foot, before applying a composed finish for his third goal of the season.
It was a goal of which Solskjaer, a deadly finisher during his playing days, would have been proud of, and provided further proof of Greenwood’s huge potential.
Martial made it 2-0 just after the half-hour mark with some sublime footwork, dancing his way past three opponents before finding the net for his third goal in five games.
The France striker could have made it 3-0 a minute later, but scooped his shot high and wide, again after impressive work from Rashford to put him through.
United went into the break 2-0 ahead, the first time since January 19 they had scored twice in the first-half at Old Trafford
Rashford finally found the net, four minutes after the restart, with a thumping finish, after a fine cross-field ball from Juan Mata and cushioned pass from Ashley Young.
United were unable to add to their goal tally thereafter, but this was a big step in the right direction, as they look to put a run together to kickstart their stuttering season.