Football Features

Rashford devours Upamecano: The winners and losers from Man Utd 5-0 RB Leipzig

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 22:35, 28 October 2020

Manchester United made it back-to-back Champions League wins after running out 5-0 winners at Old Trafford against RB Leipzig.

The Red Devils were expected to be tested by the current Bundesliga leaders but made light work after turning on the style in the stages of the game. Mason Greenwood had given United a first half lead before Marcus Rashford struck twice in four second half minutes to put the match beyond their visitors.

The Red Devils were expected to be tested by the current Bundesliga leaders but ultimately made light work of their opponents after turning on the style in the latter stages of the game, when Marcus Rashford became United’s latest super-sub echoing his manager’s reputation during his illustrious playing days.

Mason Greenwood had initially given United a first half lead before the Rashford show took over and simultaneously broke the internet. Firstly, he struck twice in four second half minutes to put the match beyond their visitors, that was followed by a late Antony Martial penalty to rub more salt into the Leipzig wound. If anyone thought a hat-trick opportunity was spurned, think again, English football’s golden boy completed his treble in stoppage time becoming the first United player since Robin van Perise six years ago to achieve this particular feat.

This was unquestionably Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s most incredible European Cup evening at the Theatre of Dreams. It also solidifies United’s position atop of Group H ahead of back-to-back matches with Turkish outfit Basaksehir starting with a formidable trip to Istanbul next week. Leipzig, meanwhile, need to dust themselves down before even thinking about getting revenge on Paris Saint-Germain who denied them a first Champions League final last season.

Rashford was an undeniable winner, that’s a given when you create a small piece of history, but there were others who shone as bright as well as those who underperformed in this encounter.

Winner: Mason Greenwood

It’s been somewhat of a tumultuous start to his second campaign in a Manchester United jersey for exciting young forward Mason Greenwood who not long ago made the wrong kind of headlines whilst on England duty. His time in the Red Devils first-team has also been limited; before this evening he’d accumulated 202 minutes across United opening six Premier League outings, and wasn’t involved whatsoever in their impressive Champions League start at last seasons’ finalists Paris Saint-Germain.

Tonight was another opportunity as well as reminding everyone of his irresistible talent. Heading into last season Solskjaer described him as the best finisher at the club and throughout 2019/20 he continually reaffirmed those words. After starting quietly, Greenwood was sent through by Paul Pogba in the 21st minute once beating RB Leipzig’s offside the Bradford-born marksman converted that perfectly weighted pass beyond Péter Gulácsi, it was yet another goal of the highest order as well as being his sixth across major European matches, the joint-most by an English teenager alongside clubmate Marcus Rashford who came on and helped himself to a sensational hat-trick in world football’s most demanding club competition.

Loser: Dayot Upamecano

You just knew after reports of United being linked with Dayot Upamecano in the summer he’d play a starring role this evening. All eyes were on the Frenchman, who months earlier penned a new deal at Leipzig, but the 22-year-old dubbed “the new van Djik” by BILD wasn’t at the races and must take a portion of blame for Greenwood’s opener as well as Rashford running roughshod.

He was sluggish and barely reactive, not what you’d expect for him that being said when the light shines the brightest there’s no place to hide, though a counter is he’s still developing as a footballer. RBL manager Nagelsmann at the backend of last season pointed that Upamecano isn’t free of any weakness unfortunately for the Bundesliga leaders their imposing defender couldn’t have picked a worse moment to put in a lethargic showing.

Winner: Paul Pogba

With one French international struggling another was excelling putting in a shift that should be customary, but it’s been a while since Paul Pogba has consistently played to his potential, tonight nevertheless demonstrated what that level is. If anything Solskjaer’s unexpected formation may have played a huge role; operating in a midfield diamond, but stationed on the left Pogba was rolling back the years notably those Juventus days which springboarded him to worldwide prominence.

There was an ease in the way he conducted United’s play and nothing was more delicious than his well-executed pass that led to Greenwood breaking his Champions League duck. It was a vintage Pogba display one that saw him be a threat in the opposition half and a presence in his own. But it was far from a perfect game as he’d often conceded possession, and only Martial was dispossessed (5) more times than him (3), but his willingness to win the ball once losing it would have put a smile on Solskjaer’s face.

Loser: Julian Nagelsmann

If this wasn’t a humbling experience for Nagelsmann, who is a year older than Nemanja Matić, then nothing is. Germany’s most promising coach, once compared to Mourinho, was simply outthought by his opposite number, someone many decry as brefet of ideas. What must be concerning was the manner his side capitulated in the final 15 minutes.

Too often their defence was torn apart by the simplest of through-balls and Rashford, described as a “Doctor with dignity” by leading publication Kicker heading into this game, cut them open with surgical precision. It’s crazy to imagine he turns 23 this Saturday, especially when you consider what he’s already achieved on, and especially off, the pitch.

Winner: Donny van de Beek

Plenty has been said and written about Donny van de Beek’s switch to Manchester United and subsequent (lack of) appearances. Patrice Evra insinuated his transfer from Ajax was unnecessary after the Dutchman failed to come off the bench against Chelsea whilst three-time Ballon d’Or winner Marco van Basten felt he chose the wrong club. Red Devils boss Solskjaer naturally disagreed and brought some perspective into the conversation stressing Van de Beek’s minutes were coming and with games coming thick and fast squad rotation was an immediate priority.

This evening was a rare start for the 14-time Dutch international, who operated behind Greenwood and Antony Martial in a 4-4-2 diamond system, though a new formation to what he’s been accustomed to Van de Beek performed this role exemplary well as joining the attack from midfield is something he did so well at his previous club. ‘Maradonny’ — as Ajax supporters affectionately called him — completed no fewer than three take-ons (most by a United player) whilst creating two chances.

Loser: Justin Kluivert

With one forward coming off the bench to devastating effect another entered the fray like a damp squib. So much was expected of Justin Kluivert when he broke through at Ajax, where his father Patrick made European Cup history, but a premature move to AS Roma — where he genuinely struggled to hold down a regular starting berth — has somewhat stunted his growth and development. Understandably a change of scene was needed, and he may still yet make this Leipzig loan switch work, but collecting a yellow card seconds after his introduction was embarrassing.