Reaction and Player Ratings : Leeds 2-4 Manchester United


Manchester United took all three points in a chaotic game at Elland Road; Leeds pulled back a two-goal deficit, only for Ralf Rangnick’s two substitutes to get on the scoresheet, and take the Old Trafford side back into the top four.

The conditions – very windy and very, very wet – were always likely to make a high-octane affair a very unpredictable one.

Neither team were able to get a proper control of the ball in the opening exchanges and the game was repeatedly stopped for both minor incidents and also a fairly major one – Leeds player Koch suffered a head injury after an early clash with McTominay and had to come off in the opening period.

It took ten minutes for United to get going, by which time Leeds had fashioned their own chance when Harrison fired over.

It was Paul Pogba who started to set the tempo, first of all getting the first shot on target away in anger, and then twice around the half-hour mark showing his creative side. His quick feet on the left saw him present a great chance for Ronaldo in the six-yard box. If you were to be kind to the legendary forward, you might say the ball held up slightly due to the conditions, but he still should have put the ball away.

Pogba set up Fernandes for an effort – it was tipped wide for United’s 140th corner since they last scored from one. But the conditions here were perfect for that run to end, and end it did, when Maguire rose to thump in Shaw’s delivery.

United were then in the ascendancy; Sancho fired over, before creating the game’s second goal, deep in to that stoppage time. You might say Lindelof deserved the majority of the credit for a fine ambitious stride from deep; he laid the ball off to the England winger, whose cross was headed in by Bruno Fernandes.

Leeds made two changes at half-time and it made an instant impact on the game. They first benefited from a huge slice of luck when Rodrygo’s cross from the left went over De Gea’s head into the far top corner. But within seconds of the restart, the visitors were masters of their own downfall; Fernandes was sloppy in possession and claimed a foul he was never going to get – from there, former United winger Dan James crossed behind the entire defence for Raphinha to level.

United were keen to take the sting out of the game. Rangnick decided to take off Lingard for Elanga, which was straightforward enough, but also brought off the most creative star, Pogba, for Fred.

The changes, though, worked; United put together the slickest move of the match in the 70th minute when Fernandes, Ronaldo and Sancho all combined, the latter exchanging a one-two with Fred, who found space in the area and drilled an effort into the top corner.

In the celebrations, Elanga appeared to be struck by an object from the crowd. Vindication is always better when it is delivered swiftly, and so it was in the dying moments when Fernandes performed an outrageous piece of skill, flicking the ball over his marker’s head, and showing the sureness of mind to lay the ball off for Elanga (who’d missed an earlier chance in a similar position) to slide the ball in and seal the result.

If the situation with the ten men of Brighton made it difficult to know if United are truly progressing, then you might argue that the conditions of the day and Leeds’ benevolent defending provide us with the same conclusion. Certainly, there’s still enough doubt as far as the quality of this team goes in the long term.

Today was a throwback, though, and you can only beat what’s in front of you. For the few thousand fans who made their way over the Pennines, the entertainment and victory will be ample reward for getting drenched.


De Gea 6

Wan-Bissaka 8

Lindelof 8

Maguire 7

Shaw 6

McTominay 7

Pogba 8

Fernandes 7

Sancho 8

Ronaldo 5

Lingard 5


Fred 7

Elanga 7


Wayne Barton

Wayne is a writer and producer. His numerous books on Manchester United include the family-authorised biography of Jimmy Murphy. He wrote and produced the BT Sport films 'Too Good To Go Down' in 2018, and 'True Genius', in 2021, both adapted from his books of the same name. In 2015 he was described by the Independent as the 'leading writer on Manchester United' and former club chairman Martin Edwards has described him as 'the pre-eminent writer on the club'.

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