Manchester United’s winning run at Old Trafford came to an end tonight after they played out a dramatic 2-2 draw with bitter rivals Leeds United.
Despite coming into the game managerless after they sacked Jesse Marsch during the week, Leeds would get off to the perfect start by scoring within the first minute. Man United dilly-dallied on the ball at the back and after Leeds high press won possession, teenage attacker Wilfried Gnonto drove forward and fired a lethal low drive into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.
Manchester United looked rattled by Leeds’s high energy start, though they did eventually start to work their way into the game and on 17 minutes they had their first real chance. This time it was United’s high press that clicked, although after being played in by Bruno Fernandes, young winger Alejandro Garnacho dragged his shot just wide of the post from 12 yards out.
Ten minutes later Garnacho must have been sure he would equalise when he rounded the Leeds goalkeeper only to see his shot brilliantly cleared off the line by Austrian defender Max Wober.
After seeing off United’s pressure to get to half-time in the lead, Leeds started the second period in electric fashion once more and again it resulted in an early goal. The impressive Gnonto played in Crysencio Summerville down the right and the Dutchman’s cutback was deflected into his own goal by Raphael Varane, who experienced a testing night at the back for the hosts.
Just after the hour mark United would strike back though, in-form frontman Marcus Rashford rising highest in the area to power home a header from a Diogo Dalot cross.
Leeds almost then restored their two goal lead when substitute Brenden Aaronson curled a free-kick through a feeble United wall and off David de Gea’s post.
On 70 minutes another substitute Jadon Sancho would lift the roof off Old Trafford when he curled past Illan Meslier from close range on what was the 22-year-old’s first Premier League appearance since October.
Special moment for Jadon Sancho after a difficult few months. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/Bxbnj2zGUk
— Football Tweet ⚽ (@Football__Tweet) February 8, 2023
Erik Ten Hag’s side pushed on in search of a winner but were unable to break down a resolute Leeds side that on the balance of play probably deserved a point.
When talking afterwards United boss Ten Hag was happy his side fought to draw the game, but he was clearly unhappy with how they started the game.
“Mixed feelings,” Ten Hag told BBC Sport. ”Of course in the end we were happy to win a point – but we dropped two points. It’s a very bad start, unacceptable, especially in a derby you have to be ready to battle and take responsibility. We didn’t do that.”
When asked if Leeds quick start surprised his players, Ten Hag replied:
“It looked like it but not me. [We knew] they will go aggressive, front foot, against a team on a good run they’ll try to get into duels and that’s what they did.
“We created great chances. Garnacho twice. Sabitzer. The header of Raphael. At half-time we had to equalise. If you start the second half the same as the first half you make it really difficult.
“I have to complement the team and resilience to fight back. We made two great team goals.”
The two historical rivals will lock horns once again on Sunday when they face each other at Elland Road.