After the exhilarating 6-2 fixture between the sides at Old Trafford, this Premier League match between Manchester United and Leeds United was one with much less quality on both sides. The game finished 0-0, making it United’s seventh stalemate of the season.
In a game of few clear cut chances, Marcus Rashford went close with a long-range free-kick in the first-half, but that was one of the only moments of quality that we saw in the match.
Before the match, Ole Gunnar Solskjær told MUTV that the match would not end as a 0-0, but a lack of quality and a more conservative approach from the hosts will have made the United manager eat his own words.
Story of the game
In contrast to the reverse fixture between the sides, where the teams went into half-time with five goals between them, the first half at Elland Road was one with less quality and in turn, less excitement and goals.
The Reds still managed to create multiple chances, and Leeds helped them out through their consistent fouling of the United men in advanced areas, but United were unable to convert these set-pieces into goals.
In open-play, Solskjær’s men had just one clear chance and it landed at the feet of Rashford. In the early minutes of the match, the forward made a run to receive a long pass from Victor Lindelöf, similar to his goal against Granada in the Europa League.
This time though, United’s number ten’s touch took him wide and then he was unable to guide his shot on target.
One of the few moments of interest came 18 minutes in, when the Whites felt as if they deserved a penalty, as the ball struck Luke Shaw’s arm, however the VAR check concluded that his arm was in a natural position and the play was resumed.
On the 24 minute mark, the impressive Aaron Wan-Bissaka linked up well with Bruno Fernandes and Daniel James which ended with the Portuguese playing a low cross towards Mason Greenwood, but the striker’s first touch left much to be desired and the chance was squandered.
For Marcelo Bielsa’s side, their man-marking pressing system caused United problems, but they were unable to create many opportunities for themselves as they were quite sloppy in possession.Embed from Getty Images
They came closest when Fernandes was dispossessed in his own third, the ball made it’s way to Stuart Dallas on the edge of the area but it was ultimately a straightforward save for Dean Henderson.
The most exciting chance of the half came just before the whistle from Rashford, who struck a powerful free-kick from distance towards Illan Meslier’s net but the 21-year-old goalkeeper was equal to the speculative effort.Embed from Getty Images
It was the second half that brought more elation as each team began to find more chances to put their sides ahead and it was United who opened up the hosts minutes after the restart.
After receiving the ball in a deeper area, Greenwood supplied a beautiful through-ball in behind the Leeds defensive line but confusion between Fernandes and James allowed Leeds defenders to stop the attack and was an example of the lack of quality in the final third throughout.
As the game entered the 60 minute mark, it seemed to spark into life with opportunities for each team within quick succession.
Firstly, United countered quickly with Fernandes playing a long pass to Rashford on the right-flank. He found a great pass to James, who ran into the box, but the Welshman was not given the time to shoot, with Allioski putting in a fine last-ditch tackle to keep the scores level.
But as United wasted a chance at one end, Leeds went close to scoring at the other end. The hosts quickly countered and Hélder Costa found himself with a chance to strike a half-volley from the left side, which deflected off of Wan-Bissaka. The ball agonisingly looped towards the United goal but thankfully for the Reds, it landed on top of the net and not inside of it.
Ten minutes later, Fernandes swiped at a low cross from Shaw, but was unable to get a good enough connection to test the goalkeeper.
After that, the game returned to one of low quality from both sides and the best opportunity came just before the 90th minute, where Greenwood’s shot from inside the area was comfortably blocked before the full-time whistle was blown and that points were shared.
A lack of quality on show
After some impressive performances against Spurs, Granada and Burnley, United were lacklustre in this match, as well as their opponents.
A poor final ball and touch on the attack led to a much less exciting fixture to the 6-2 win, where United were at their most clinical.
With an important game mid-week against Roma in the Europa League semi-final, Solskjær will need a better performance from his team if they want to put one foot in the final.