Match Report: Leeds United 2-4 Manchester United

Since Leeds United returned to the Premier League last season, their games against Manchester United have seemed to guarantee goals, with the anomaly being the 0-0 draw at Elland Road last April.

Today was no different, as the Red Devils ran out 4-2 winners against one of the club’s biggest rivals, in some of the most outrageous conditions seen in the Premier League for years. Goals from Harry Maguire, Bruno Fernandes, Fred, and Anthony Elanga secured all three points for United, despite Rodrigo and Raphina getting themselves on the scoresheet for Leeds.

Jadon Sancho put in an exemplary man of the match performance, grabbing himself two assists. Ralf Rangnick’s team extended their lead in fourth place, going four points clear of West Ham United and Arsenal in fifth and sixth respectively.

Story of the game

The home side had an early chance to take the lead through Jack Harrison; the winger met a ball over the top of United’s defence, played by Mateusz Klich, but his shot sailed harmlessly over David de Gea’s goal.

Cristiano Ronaldo had a big chance to put United ahead in the 26th minute. After some exceptional play by Paul Pogba, who easily went past Adam Forshaw on the left-hand side, the Frenchman played a low cross towards Ronaldo. However, the Portugal captain failed to get a clean connection on his shot, and Leeds goalkeeper Illan Meslier made a save with his legs to keep the score at 0-0.

In the 34th minute, United did something they were yet to do all season; they scored a goal from a corner. Luke Shaw put in an inviting cross, and his fellow England international, Harru Maguire, rose highest and met it well to give United the lead. That was the first time United have scored from a corner in competitive football since March 14th, 2021, against West Ham, when Craig Dawson scored an own goal at Old Trafford.

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Both sides had chances in the remainder of the first half, including one from Jadon Sancho, who fired over the bar with his left foot from close range.

As the six minutes of stoppage time neared its end, United managed to double their lead through Bruno Fernandes. The Portugal international scored a header to finish off an impressive piece of play. It was Victor Lindelof who began the move. He made an excellent run forward, exploiting the space ahead of him, before finding Sancho out wide on the right. The winger played an audacious cross into Fernandes, who nodded the ball past Meslier to put United two goals ahead.

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The second half got underway, with the conditions worsening at halftime. Leeds started the half with some early opportunities, and Klich saw a shot get blocked by Shaw before he dragged a big chance wide of the post.

The home fans, however, did not have to wait long to see their side score, although it was not a goal anyone saw coming. Spaniard Rodrigo looked to play a ball into the box intended for Raphinaat the back post. However, his cross never found its target, and instead it nestled into the back of de Gea’s goal to pull one back for his side. Rodrigo certainly scored one of the most unconventional goals in the league this season.

Just one minute later, Leeds had drawn level. Former United player Dan James played a low cross into the box, once again aiming for Raphina. This time, the cross found its target, and the Brazilian scored from close range to equalise for his side, and cap off a disappointing start to the half for United.

However, the Red Devils started to see more of the ball and create some more chances. Sancho fired another left-footed shot over the bar, after some creative play from Cristiano Ronaldo.

United finally managed to get themselves back into the lead, through a goal from Fred, his second against Leeds this season. United moved the ball across the pitch, from right to left, very quickly. Fernandes found Ronaldo in space created by a clever run from Anthony Elanga, and United’s number seven picked out Fred. The midfielder played a one-two with Sancho, who held the ball up for the perfect length of time before returning the pass. Fred made no mistake, firing the ball past Meslier to put United ahead once again.

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As the full-time whistle drew ever nearer, both sides were still pushing for a goal. Elanga had a chance to add a fourth for United from a fast counterattack, but his shot was saved by Meslier. Klich also had a couple more opportunities to equalise for Leeds, although he did not score either despite forcing de Gea into two saves.

However, Elanga did manage to score his second league goal of the season, in the 88th minute. Fernandes cleverly flicked the ball over the head of Pascal Struijk, before sliding the ball through to Elanga. The 19-year-old made no mistake, slotting the ball through Meslier’s legs to seal all three points for United.

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A big week ahead

After leaving Elland Road with a vital three points, United must now look ahead to the first leg of their Champions League Last 16 tie against Atletico Madrid next Wednesday. The Red Devils travel to Spain next week to face Diego Simeone’s side, who will be without some important players out for the game.

United then host Watford next Saturday at Old Trafford, a team fighting for survival in the Premier League. United will be hoping to further extend their lead in fourth place. With some big games coming up, Rangnick’s team will no doubt be looking to build on the momentum after two big wins this week.

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