Manchester United hammered 5 goals past a hapless RB Leipzig side in their Champions League group stage match on Wednesday. After their weekend draw against Chelsea, United fans may have felt slightly under-confident going up against a high-pressing and quick RB Leipzig side. However, goals from Mason Greenwood, Anthony Martial, and a phenomenal hattrick by Marcus Rashford MBE, dispatched Leipzig. United’s disciplined defending outmatched Leipzig’s gameplan.
Ole decided to rotate his midfield, by bringing in Donny van de Beek, Paul Pogba, and Nemanja Matic alongside Fred. The back four consisted of Maguire, Lindelof, AWB, and Luke Shaw as Alex Telles was out of the matchday squad yet again. Mason Greenwood and Anthony Martial were the front 2, as David de Gea was United’s last line of defense. Bruno Fernandes, Rashford, McTominay, Axel, Mata, and James were on the bench.
Manchester United pushed well in the opening minutes and had a couple of shots blocked. However, RB Leipzig began moving the ball around and kept passing the ball past United’s midfield. Fortunately, the United backline looked solid and negated every attack from RB Leipzig. The game looked much slower as both teams were trying to pass the ball around without threatening the other too much. Things changed in a flash, however, as Mason Greenwood finished the ball clinically in the bottom corner to put Manchester United ahead. United had their noses ahead and the game opened up significantly.
There were quite a few nervous passes and silly giveaways in the midfield which put United on the backfoot. Nevertheless, Harry Maguire was marshaling his defense with ease. By the 30th minute, United were beginning to slow the game down and defending well but were unable to string together a lot of passes in the midfield. At this time, a quick counterattack utilizing Mason and Martial’s pace could’ve doubled the lead for the Red Devils, but Leipzig came at United with everything they had. Despite being under pressure, the back 4 showed no signs of weakness and kept Leipzig’s forwards outside the box as the first half ended 1-1.
The beginning of the second half was much like the ending of the first half- nervy. There were a few bad giveaways and the attack wasn’t connecting well with the midfield. Some last-ditch defending from Harry Maguire and AWB kept United in the lead as Leipzig tried extremely hard to find the equalizer. After the 50th minute, United turned on the attacking gears and began to move the ball around very smoothly and Leipzig looked shaken.
In the 60th minute when Marcus Rashford and Scott McTominay came on to replace Mason Greenwood and Nemanja Matic. Leipzig continued to push and almost equalized but David de Gea’s reflex save from point-blank range kept United ahead, and Leipzig frustrated. With Bruno Fernandes coming on, United switched formation to a 4-2-3-1, and the late onslaught began. Bruno Fernandes played a great pass to Marcus Rashford who sprinted into the Leipzig box and finished past the goalkeeper. The line referee raised the flag to signal offside on the play. However, upon VAR review it is clear that Rashford was in his own half when the pass was played. United doubled their lead by playing to the whistle, and moments later Marcus Rashford fired an excellent shot into the bottom corner to put Leipzig out of the match.
The Late Onslaught
United looked more dangerous and confident by the minute as they began passing the ball past the Leipzig defense. Marcus Rashford nearly capped off a hattrick with a wonderful run into the Leipzig box but his shot was blocked. In the 86th minute, Martial was brought down in the box and the referee pointed to the spot without a doubt. Much like his off-field work, Rashford showed his generosity and let Martial take the penalty. Martial did not disappoint as his penalty found the bottom left corner despite the goalkeeper getting a touch.
Leipzig were torn down and taken apart in the last 15 minutes and every time United attacked, a goal seemed inevitable. Edinson Cavani was wide open on a few occasions but the passing denied him a first United goal. However, United continued to play a high quality of football as they continued to hustle and push for more goals. And as if there was ever any doubt, Marcus Rashford fired his third goal of the night and condemned RB Leipzig to a 5-0 humiliation at Old Trafford.
- Incredible display from the back 4 defensively. Maguire and Lindelof were on the same wavelength. Fred and Matic were also very solid and supported the defense excellently.
- Donny van de Beek paired well with the forwards, as did Paul Pogba. The midfield for United has been fabulous.
- Marcus Rashford MBE- what a player! Nothing can go wrong for Rashford right now!
- Bruno Fernandes really changed the game when he came on along with Rashford and McTominay- great depth in the team.
Things to Improve
- The midfield gets a little nervous and tends to give the ball away a bit too much and that could hurt us in other games.
United will feel very confident going into their game against Arsenal over the weekend, as well as their doubleheader against Istanbul next match week. For now, United have passed their RB Leipzig test with flying colors. Worth noting was Upamecano’s impressive performance in the first half. Although his Manchester United audition did not go to plan, he showed immense promise.