In a repeat of Wednesday’s frenetic Old Trafford showdown, Leeds United and Manchester United produced an entertaining back-and-forth affair on Sunday, with Erik ten Hag’s men winning 2-0 in the latest Roses rivalry.
The die was cast in midweek, as both clubs played out an exhilarating 2-2 affair in the North West, with Ten Hag’s men battling from behind to salvage a point. This afternoon, with a heavily-rotated XI, they withstood a heavy assault from the hosts to clinch three much-needed points.
Leeds had the best chances fall their way in the first half, with Crysencio Summerville twice breaking through to try and spoil David de Gea’s 400th Premier League appearance. But the diminutive Dutch attacker was unable to gift his side a breakthrough, something they would later come to regret.
Indeed, The Red Devils looked leggy and cumbersome at stages, with Harry Maguire and De Gea both guilty of sloppy passes out from the back as Leeds pressed in their usually high-octane style. With both Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane missing from the starting line-up, Man Utd lacked fluidity.
Stop playing stupid and slow passes across the back! Same as Wednesday first half!
— Gary Neville (@GNev2) February 12, 2023
Martinez was introduced in the second half, and his appearance on the turf appeared to have the desired effect. Man Utd offered more of an attacking threat in the latter stages, and eventually made the breakthrough with Marcus Rashford once again getting on the scoresheet.
It was the England international’s 21st goal of the season in all competitions — his second-best tally ever — and reinforced his renewed vigour and a rediscovered sense of potency post-World Cup. Finding space in the box, he manufactured room to nod home from a precision Luke Shaw cross and release the tension in the away stand.
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The visitors were not finished there, though, with substitute Alejandro Garnacho also getting in on the act after combining brilliantly with Wout Weghorst to race through on goal and breach Illan Meslier, something he failed to do in midweek which, at the time, elicited a stern post-mortem from his manager.
“He has an impact on our game, he is a threat, also [against Leeds], he had good actions, he was lively, created chances, but had to score,” Ten Hag said after Wednesday’s Leeds draw following Garnacho’s gilt-edged miss.
“And finally, it’s about that – that you have an effect. As a striker you have to at least be on the scoring list, the assist list, the key action list, to have the right impact. Of course, we expect him also to do the other stuff [such as pressing] but as a Man United player, we expect you to have an impact to influence the score, to influence the result, to positively influence the game by scoring goals and having an assist.”
Alejandro Garnacho has been directly involved in more goals as a substitute than any other player in the Premier League player this season:
◉ 2 goals
◉ 2 assists
Star boy. ? pic.twitter.com/5KUATehpRE
— Squawka (@Squawka) February 12, 2023
Just four days later, the Argentine sensation has responded, and then some. It is a testament to Ten Hag’s managerial skills that he appears capable of weeding out the egos and getting the best out of emerging talent, something he has consistently proven throughout his career.
Rashford’s accelerating form under the Dutchman points to this; Jadon Sancho’s returning goal in midweek; and now Garnacho’s late salvo to quell comments from his manager post-Leeds at Old Trafford. Ten Hag asked, his protege delivered.
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