Manchester United rallied from a two-goal deficit to earn a point against Leeds United at Old Trafford. Marcus Rashford and substitute Jadon Sancho scored to cancel out Wilfried Gnonto’s first-minute strike and Raphael Varane’s own goal, putting Erik ten Hag’s side three points ahead of Newcastle United in the Premier League table.
The Reds came back from a goal down thanks to well-worked counter-attacks and a never-say-die attitude exemplified by Luke Shaw, who was instrumental in Sancho’s goal to tie the game.
Erik’s men travel to Elland Road in just four days for the rematch, and with the heart shown in the latter stages, United will look to be ready for the away trip and aim for maximum points.
Leeds got off to a fast start, converting on their first attack of the game. After only 30 seconds, Tyler Adams dispossessed Bruno Fernandes, allowing Italian winger Gnonto to break away quickly. After a VAR check determined that Patrick Bamford was onside, Gnonto moved around the United defence and his low shot beat David De Gea to open the scoring.
Ten minutes later, the visitors were on the verge of doubling their lead. Maximilian Wober’s header from a corner found Pascal Struijk, who made enough contact to force an instinctive save from De Gea to keep the game at 1-0. United planned to respond with a quick counterattack. Rashford’s pressure on Struijk allowed the Reds to reclaim possession and allow Fernandes to cross the ball to Alejandro Garnacho. The young winger took a touch before shooting just wide of the far post.
Garnacho had the best chance of the half midway through. Fernandes’ pass was intercepted by the Academy product, who rounded Meslier and attempted to level the game. Wober, however, headed his goalbound shot off the line.
Facundo Pellistri made his Premier League debut today, coming on after 59 minutes in Manchester United’s 2-2 draw vs. Leeds United.
The winger is the 27th Uruguayan to play in the Premier League. (via @martingustav). pic.twitter.com/R0j6EK3SfN
— Warriors of Uruguay (@UruguayanHeroes) February 8, 2023
Marcel Sabitzer, making his first start for Erik ten Hag’s side, sprung into action moments later.Following a corner clearance, the Austrian controlled the ball, shifted it onto his left foot, and fired a shot from outside the box, forcing Meslier to make a great save to deny him. Despite eight minutes of stoppage time after Struijk was forced off with a head injury and Gnonto required treatment, the visitors were not scared.
Leeds started the second half the same way they began the first, with a quick counter-attack that resulted in a goal.
Despite an appeal for handball, Garnacho lost out in the centre of the pitch, allowing the Whites to break through Gnonto. His pass found substitute Crysencio Summerville, whose cross ricocheted off Varane’s boot and past De Gea to put the game out of reach.
United quickly responded, with Wout Weghorst receiving the ball from Fernandes on the right wing and picking out a long weighted pass to Rashford. The in-form forward cut inside and attempted a shot on goal, but the resulting strike fizzed wide.
Just before the hour mark, Ten Hag made two substitutions, removing Weghorst and Garnacho and replacing them with Sancho and Facundo Pellistri, the Uruguayan making his Premier League debut. United responded moments after coming on. Pellistri got the better of Junior Firpo on the right side after latching on to a Sabitzer pass and laying the ball off to Diogo Dalot. His cross found Rashford’s head, and the England forward guided the ball over Meslier for his 20th goal of the season, giving fans hope.
Rashford’s goal makes him the first United player since Wayne Rooney in April 2012 to score in six consecutive Premier League appearances at Old Trafford. After that, United refused to lose after Sancho levelled the game. Shaw drove forward and linked up well with Sancho after winning the ball back in the middle of the pitch. The pair exchanged some brilliant passes in the area before Sancho, who had recently returned from injury, fired a low driven shot past Meslier to bring the Stretford End to its feet and tie the game at 2-2.
Varane’s header brought the best out of Meslier, and the keeper’s goal had a charmed life at times, with Fred and Fernandes also having chances. Instead, Leeds held out for five minutes of stoppage time, doing well to kill our momentum on occasion, and will be happier with the result.