Manchester United today faced up against Brentford in the top flight of English football for the first time since 1974.
United started brightly in the opening 10 minutes. However, that was pretty much their highlight in the first half. Brentford started to press United’s backline very well, forced mistakes out of the midfield and would have gone 1 or 2 goals up, had it not been for some sub-par finishing and David de Gea brilliance.
The second half was a different story. United immediately came out with much more intention and energy, and Cristiano Ronaldo hit the bar 45 seconds in. De Gea made one more save from yet another Brentford counter, and from here it was plain sailing for the Reds. Anthony Elanga opened with a perfect touch and finish, followed up by goals from Mason Greenwood and substitute Marcus Rashford (both assisted by Bruno Fernandes) sealed the victory.
Brentford brought one back through Ivan Toney towards the end, however, the goal was to no avail.
David de Gea – 8/10
In the first half, De Gea was brilliant at doing what he does best – saving many shots. Without him, United would not have gone into half time level… there is zero denying that. However, he also did what he does worst – booting the ball away and losing possession when he doesn’t need to.
Ultimately, if it wasn’t for his heroics tonight, United would have been down and out before they scored. It’s a side point, but if De Gea was to become calmer on the ball he would become a much more well rounded keeper.
Diogo Dalot – 9/10
The question about Dalot has always been about his defensive frailties. Tonight he did a lot to prove them wrong, especially with his aerial prowess combating back-post crosses. He won many aerial duels tonight and put in a very good game.
Victor Lindelof – 7.5/10
Lindelof also did very well in the air, winning 6 of his 7 aerial duels. He seems to form a very nice partnership with Varane.
Raphaël Varane -7 /10
A quiet but good game from Varane tonight. He made 6 clearances in the match, and these were vital in the last 10 minutes, clearing 3 separate shots and crosses to keep Brentford at bay when he could.
Alex Telles – 4/10
Keeping his place in the XI from last time out, Telles did not perform as well. Brentford had multiple counter-attacks down his side, and he was bailed out by De Gea, who saved every shot from these counters.
Scott McTominay – 9/10
McTominay was excellent today. He battled well as United’s main defensive midfielder, and it was his hard work in midfield that gave United the chance to score their third. It was also his ball into Ronaldo that allowed the striker to lay the ball off to Fernandes for Greenwood’s goal.
Fred – 6/10
Fred had a shaky game. There were a number of times where he dived in when he shouldn’t have, allowing Brentford to skip past him on multiple occasions. Equally though, it was his lovely assist that got the ball rolling for United – his third assist in just as many games.
Bruno Fernandes – 7.5/10
After scoring both of United’s goals against Aston Villa, Fernandes played on the left of midfield 3, and although he did not impact the game that significantly in the first half, the second was a different story.
As the game went on, he crept forwards, and it was his darting run from a lovely layoff by Ronaldo that saw him set up Greenwood to tap the ball into an open net. He also played a well-weighted pass to Rashford to finish the game off.
Mason Greenwood – 7/10
Greenwood was lively tonight. After some fans criticized his ‘selfishness’ in recent weeks, he responded with a good, well-rounded performance, capped off with his 6th goal of the season.
28 accurate passes, 3 attempted crosses and one key pass saw him through a good display.
Cristiano Ronaldo – 5/10
In his first match back after spending two games out with a hip problem, it was clear that he was a little rusty. Ronaldo grew in to the game though and effectively created United’s second goal with an inch-perfect chested ball through to Fernandes, who subsequently squared the ball off for Greenwood to finish into an open net.
Anthony Elanga – 7.5/10
Earning a second consecutive start after a great display against Aston Villa, Elanga did not have the most graceful of first halves. However, as the rets to the team, he came alive in the second 45 minutes and opened the scoring.
His touch and finish showed composure beyond his years; further proving why he should be given a serious chance in this team.
Marcus Rashford – 6.5/10
Rashford is a player low on confidence. Having not scored in his 11 previous appearances, Rashford finished off United’s third goal in style to give himself a much-needed boost.
Harry Maguire – 5/10
Maguire was brought on for Ronaldo to shift United into a back 5, and it’s obvious that he is a little void of good form. He had one or two wobbly but ultimately insignificant moments. For the time being, I don’t think either Lindelof of Varane should be dropped for him.
Nemanja Matic – N/A
Matic was brought on for an injured McTominay but made no significant impact on the game.