[Match Report – Highlights – Post-Match Reaction]
Leeds 0 Manchester United 2
Rashford 80′ Garnacho ’85
United weathered the tackles and taunts of Elland Road before scoring two late goals to jump temporarily into second place in the premier league and hopefully help send Leeds down.
Erik ten Hag again named a surprising eleven. Maguire partnered Shaw in defence. Malacia started at left-back. Dalot held onto the right-back slot despite looking out of sorts on Wednesday. The midfield was the only one available with Fred, Sabizer and Fernandes. Sancho started his first game since his lengthy absence, coming in on the right side of the attack. Weghorst retained his place, with Rashford playing off the left. It is fair to say most United fans were worried.
With a downgraded defence, the same midfield and Sancho being the only upgrade in attack, there was every chance this could go worse than Wednesday’s home draw. But it didn’t. Despite weak refereeing and a hostile crowd, United fought toe to toe until their quality overcame a side that came to play ugly. And it was ugly.
For an hour, there was practically no football of note. United had most of the possession but struggled to string four or five passes outside their half. No one from either side got time on the ball. Leeds were happy to disrupt. United were frustrated. Bruno had a couple of half chances, and DeGea made some saves, but most of the game was players contesting the ball, winning it, and then giving it away. Luckily United have the master of this tactic in Fred. He won possession with tackles eight times. Though little came of it, he disrupted the disruptors.
Sometimes you have to earn the right to play. Beat the opponent at their game before you impose yours. United had matched Leeds’ aggression for an hour. Ten Hag sensed the time was right to turn the screw.
Garnacho and Martinez came on for Sancho and Malacia. Shaw moved back to fullback. Sancho had been one of United’s better players for an hour, but the fresh legs almost paid off immediately, and United began to play.
Dalot hit the crossbar after a sweeping United move from back to front that saw Garnancho beat his man and Rashford twist Leeds defenders’ limbs. United became more expansive but at the cost of giving Leeds more space, especially down the left against a tiring Dalot. Soon, Ten Hag replaced him with Wan Bissaka. United again contained Leeds before turning the screw more tightly.
Sabitzer dropped deep to find space, then strode forward across the halfway line before powering a pass at Weghorst. The tall Dutchman held it up before playing it back to Fred. His first-time pass found Fernandes, who laid it off for Sabitzer. The Bayern loanee angled a crossfield pass to Shaw on the left wing. Shaw controlled it neatly before swinging a perfect left-foot cross that Rashford headed powerfully from between the posts. It was a Manchester United Striker’s goal at the end of a beautiful Manchester United passage of play. Rashford now has twenty-one goals this season.
It broke Leeds. They never regained their intensity. It was all United from here on in. With five minutes remaining, Garnacho put them out of their misery with a second goal.
Weghorst and Fred combined to win the ball back before Weghorst played a through-pass for Garnacho down the left. Garnacho tempted the defender in before speeding past him and in on goal. He shaped to hit his shot far post before smashing it past Mellier at the near. The keeper got a touch but never had a hope. Much like Leeds on the day.