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Saturday, September 18, 2021

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United 5 Leeds 1 – Manchester United

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Bruno Fernandes scored a sensational hat-trick as Manchester United defeated Leeds United 5-1 and got the 2021/22 Premier League season off to a magnificent and exciting start.

Our top scorer from last term carried on where he left off with the Portuguese midfielder setting us on our way to a crushing 5-1 win with our first goal of the season.

Leeds levelled at the start of the second half but another two from the irrepressible Bruno and goals from Mason Greenwood and Fred provided the perfect welcome back for an Old Trafford full house.

It will have whetted the appetite, too, for new star defender Raphael Varane, whose transfer from Real Madrid was confirmed before kick-off, and he was paraded in front of the United faithful to a rapturous standing ovation that set the tone for a memorable opening to the campaign.

Another new face, Jadon Sancho, also made his Reds bow as a second-half substitute in what was a perfect afternoon for manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Hands up who’s a hat-trick hero!

FIRST HALF – BRUNO KICKSTARTS UNITED’S SEASON

United steamed into the new season looking as though we wanted a repeat of the barnstorming start to the Old Trafford match against Leeds back in December.

Pre-Christmas Red destroyer Scott McTominay wrecked the visitors and set up a sensational 6-2 win with two goals in the first three minutes. And our midfielder was out of the blocks like an Olympian again when he had the first meaningful shot blocked after 120 seconds.

The lively Greenwood had a shot saved and then put Pascal Struijk under pressure and forced the defender to jab a rescuing pass off our striker that deflected and almost caught keeper Illan Meslier out. The Leeds no.1, however, was able to flip the ball over his bar.

Half of the stadium thought Paul Pogba had scored out first goal of the campaign when he was put in by Greenwood. Neat footwork by the Frenchman beat Meslier but as a huge roar, went up it took a while to sink in his effort had gone behind the goal.

David De Gea was called into action after 16 minutes as Leeds gave a reminder of their distinctive, rapid, energetic counter-attacking football. But the Spaniard thwarted Jack Harrison and Mateusz Klich. A Rodrigo header from a free-kick was also a heart-stopper for United fans under their noses in the Stretford End.

The deadlock was broken after 30 minutes when goal-machine Fernandes struck our first of the 2021/22 season. The Reds seized on a loose clearance from keeper Meslier and Pogba clipped a ball into the Portuguese midfielder’s path and the move was complete when he finished with his left foot. It was a timely hit as it broke a period when the visitors were beginning to look dangerous.

The first half hour’s intensity waned slightly but the Reds remained on top.

SECOND HALF – ON-FIRE BRUNO SEES OFF LEEDS

United were stunned by a Leeds equaliser three minutes into the second half. Luke Ayling was released into space and had time to advance before unleashing a rocket past De Gea. The Reds’ response was swift and superbly deadly.

We were on level terms for just three minutes before Pogba put Greenwood through. Our no.11 easily held off a struggling Struijk and drilled his finish past Meslier to make it 2-1 as the stadium erupted. Two minutes later, it was 3-1.

Fernandes brilliantly put keeper Meslier on his backside and wrong-footed the defence before striking a shot that Ayling tried to hack away. However, referee Paul Tierney indicated goalline technology had signalled a goal and Old Trafford was rocking again.

It was breathtaking stuff and the rampant Reds couldn’t be contained, especially the sensational Bruno. He secured the match-ball with a thunderous half-volley inside the box on the hour. There was a minimal wait for a VAR check before his venomous strike and his first hat-trick for United was confirmed.

Leeds had been totally floored and Fred got our fifth as he swept home after 69 minutes.

It was the perfect platform for our other summer new face Jadon Sancho to make his bow as he replaced Daniel James in the 74th minute to a roar almost as loud as those which had greeted United’s goals.

Anthony Martial also came on for the assist-king Pogba to join Nemanja Matic, who’d come on for Scott McTominay after Fred had scored.

New boy Jadon Sancho in substitute action on a great day for United.

MATCH DETAILS

United: De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire (C), Shaw, Fred, McTominay (Matic 68), James (Sancho 76), Fernandes, Pogba (Martial 74), Greenwood.

Subs not used: Heaton, Dalot, Williams, Andreas, Mata, van de Beek.

Goals: Fernandes (30, 53, 60), Greenwood (51), Fred (68)

Bookings: Shaw

Leeds: Meslier, Ayling, Koch, Cooper (C), Bamford (Roberts 76), Raphina, Dallas, Rodrigo (Firpo 45), Struijk, Harrison (Helder Costa 69), Klich.

Subs not used: Forshaw, Klaesson, Phillips, Summerville, Greenwood, Shackleton.

Goals: Ayling (48)

Bookings: Cooper, Raphina.

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