Manchester United maintained their push for a place in the top four by beating bitter rivals Leeds 4-2 today at Elland Road.
The game started at a frenetic pace, in front of a raucous crowd and during a horrendous downpour.
For all the endeavor of both sides, it would be the 21st minute before either goalkeeper would be called into any meaningful action when Adam Forshaw forced Man United ‘keeper David de Gea into a decent stop from the edge of the area.
The Red Devils then missed a glorious chance to take the lead when Cristiano Ronaldo hit straight at Illan Meslier from two yards out after some brilliant work down the left from Paul Pogba.
It’s been a tough season for under fire United skipper Harry Maguire, but the centre-back would give his side the lead on 34 minutes. Luke Shaw whipped in a wicked delivery from a left-hand side corner and Maguire rose highest to score his sides first set-piece goal of the season.
Four minutes into stoppage time United would then go two up, Bruno Fernandes heading home from the edge of the six-yard box after a delicate chipped delivery from the impressive Jadon Sancho.
Leeds fans and their players looked deflated at the end of the first-half, but that would all change eight minutes after the break when record signing Rodrigo’s cross from the left evaded de Gea’s grasp and flew into the back of the net.
Just two minutes later and the home crowd were in ecstasy when half-time substitute Raphinha tapped home a Dan James cross from close-range.
Ralf Rangnick threw on his own Brazil international from the bench when Fred replaced Pogba just after the hour mark and the energetic midfielder put United back in the lead on 70 minutes. After a slick counter-attack Sancho laid the ball off and Fred fired a thunderous effort past Meslier at the near post.
Harry Maguire’s game by numbers vs Leeds United:
100% aerial duels won
100% tackles won (2/2)
100% ground duels won
36 total touches
4 long passes played
2 ball recoveries
Captains performance. 💪 pic.twitter.com/XVxBwQqJ9p
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) February 20, 2022
Two minutes from time Anthony Elanga sealed the win for his side with a cooly taken finish after being slipped through by Fernandes.
Speaking afterwards United captain Maguire was pleased that his side stuck together and came out on top after Leeds second-half fightback.
“We needed to start the second half better, for sure,” Maguire told Sky Sports. ”They came out right on top of us; their first goal is obviously really lucky and it got them right back in it and then they scored a good goal.
”We had to fight back and stick together; we knew it was a tough place to come but we knew we had qualities and could hurt them.
”We said at half time we needed to score more in the second half and we managed to do that.”
Maguire’s goal from a corner was United’s first in 140 attempts and the England international admitted it is a stat that him and his teammates had been well aware of.
“I’m embarrassed by the stat. I’m a big part of that set play routine but as a team we’ve been nowhere near good enough. If we scored more from set pieces we’d be higher up the table.”