Running Riot Against the Rivals

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 20: Daniel James of Manchester United battles for possession with Ezgjan Alioski of Leeds United during the Premier League match between Manchester United and Leeds United at Old Trafford on December 20, 2020 in Manchester, England. The match will be played without fans, behind closed doors as a Covid-19 precaution. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Manchester United steamrolled old foes Leeds United in a fiery competition on Sunday evening. Goals from Scott McTominay, Bruno Fernandes, Daniel James, and Victor Lindelof gave United the 6-2 win at Old Trafford. United had a drab Manchester Derby last weekend but came up with the goods today to comprehensively beat Bielsa’s Leeds. 

Starting XI

Ole Gunnar Solksjaer went with a trusted lineup while making some tweaks considering the hectic holiday schedule ahead. David de Gea returned in the net with Maguire, Lindelof in defense along with Shaw and Wan-Bissaka on the wings. Fred and McTominay were the holding midfielders behind Fernandes, Rashford, Martial, and Dan James. Donny van de Beek, Cavani, Alex Telles, and Pogba were among those on the bench. This team had a great defensive ability with great attacking options on the bench. 

First Half

Before the pre-match coffee was brewed, and the TV was turned on, Manchester United scored two goals. In the 58th second, Bruno laid the ball off to McTominay who lashed a curler into the bottom corner to put United ahead. Only moments later, Anthony Martial played the ball to McTominay in the box and the Scotsman finished in the bottom corner again. Leeds attempted to respond right away and came close on multiple occasions.  

In the 19th minute, Manchester United tripled the lead through a Bruno Fernandes strike. James, Bruno, and Fred combined for a sublime move and moved the ball up to Martial. The ball was poked loose by the Leeds defender, and Bruno fired the ball into the far corner to put United in the driver’s seat. Leeds showed incredible energy and commitment to try and find the goals and gave the United defense plenty of headaches. Bamford’s attempt was unsuccessful as United scrambled to keep their rivals out. Lindelof joined the party in the 36th minute off a corner, as he slotted the ball home to make it 4-0. Despite the scoreline, Leeds were dominating possession and creating chances at an incredible rate. Their persistence was rewarded, as Cooper headed in a corner in the 41st minute to reduce the deficit. 

Second Half

Although Manchester United were leading, they were not home and dry just yet. With Leeds’ fast-paced and high pressing game, 3 goals were a possibility in the second half. Manchester United had a huge chance to put the game to bed but Martial’s shot was wayward. In the 50th minute, de Gea made a stunning save from close range to keep Raphinha out. 

Ole brought on Ale Telles to replace Luke Shaw in the 60th minute. Shortly after, Manchester United relieved the pressure through Daniel James in the 66th minute. McTominay played a spectacular pass to James who shot from close range through the Leeds keeper- 5-1! Immediately after, Martial fell in the box and the referee pointed to the spot. Up stepped Bruno Fernandes and calmly fired the ball home to make it 6- surely the 3 points were guaranteed then. Manchester United had the chance to pile on the misery. Unfortunately, Martial’s shot was weak and mistargeted. In the 71st minute, van de Beek and Cavani came on to replace Bruno and Rashford as United looked to ice out the game. Leeds recorded a consolation goal from Dallas late on. A flurry of chances came about for both teams but the scoreline remained unchanged. 

Full-Time Thoughts

I don’t know about anyone else but I was rubbing my eyes in disbelief when I saw Scott McTominay score within 60 seconds. I was convinced I was dreaming when I saw him slot the ball in a minute later. Manchester United today outran and out pressed Leeds United. The visitors knew how to play one way and one way only, and Ole’s boys just did a better job in movement and finishing. Leeds had the majority of possession and even made more passes, but the Red Devils were alert and sharp. At one point it looked like Rashford knew where the defender would put in a challenge tricked him! McTominay gave this team the early boost, but every member of the team did their jobs and gave the team this win. 

Manchester United have a Carabao Cup match against Everton on Wednesday before traveling to Leicester and facing the Foxes. As it stands, United are 3rd in the table, 1 point behind Leicester and 5 points behind Liverpool with a game in hand. An action-packed holiday season awaits and Manchester United will be hoping to find the back of the net with the same frequency and gusto as they did today. 

About Deep Chadha 38 Articles
Hi, my name is Deep and I have been a Manchester United fan since I was 10 years old! This club means everything to me and I have spent many late nights and early mornings watching games, and then re-watching highlights. Hoping to see #21 in our trophy cabinet soon! GGMU

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