Manchester United came from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Leeds United on Wednesday night in a game that saw Marcus Rashford grab yet another goal and Jadon Sancho come off the bench to score his first goal since his return to the first team.
Old Trafford was stunned within just sixty seconds of the old-school clash when Wilfred Gnonto fired the Yorkshiremen into the lead. The Italian winger progressed inward from the left flank before firing a clinical strike beyond David De Gea following some half-hearted defending.
Leeds, managerless following the sacking of Jesse Marsch recently, maintained momentum before it began to swing in favour of Erik ten Hag’s men, with Alejandro Garnacho in particular having multiple good chances to score. Marcel Sabitzer came close on his left foot from distance on his full debut for the club, but Wout Weghorst was again limited to very few opportunities to even get a shot away.Embed from Getty Images
It went from bad to worse for The Reds when Leeds doubled their advantage in the 48th minute. The visitors won the ball back in the United final third before it was played out wide to Crysencio Summerville on the left. The Dutchman fired a cross across the face of goal that was turned in by Varane, who could not have done much about it, in fairness.
A double change took place just before the hour mark which saw Sancho take the place of Weghorst, with Rashford moving into the striker role, and Facundo Pellistri take the place of Garnacho, with the former making a Premier League debut.
The changes were proven to be impactful when Pellistri showed great determination to maintain possession on the right wing. The Uruguayan pulled it back for Diogo Dalot who crossed it in for Rashford and his header put United back in the mix in the 62nd minute.
Momentum was well and truly in favour of The Red Devils, and the home side soon equalised through Sancho in the 70th minute when the Englishman managed to smuggle the ball beyond Illan Meslier after finding a good position inside the left of the area.Embed from Getty Images
It looked all set for United to complete the comeback, but barring a few half chances, it just was not to be for the home side whose thirteen-game winning streak at Old Trafford came to an end.
Final Score: Manchester United 2-2 (Rashford 62’, Sancho 70’) (Gnonto 1’, Varane 48’ [og])
Man of the match
Sancho changed the game following his introduction in the second half.
Whilst not doing anything extraordinary, the 22-year-old helped swing the momentum in his side’s favour after they looked to have lost their way after Leeds bagged a second early in the half.
He was direct with his runs, tidy with his passing and picked up good positions in the box; it was exactly the sort of Sancho that fans will want to see more of following his return to the first team fray.
Ten Hag showed great faith in the former Borussia Dortmund man, and the winger repaid that faith with an important equalising goal.
It is a case of onwards and upwards for Sancho, hopefully.
The bigger pictureEmbed from Getty Images
Supporters will rightfully feel gutted not to see United make it fourteen wins on the bounce at The Theatre of Dreams. It is worth remembering how phenomenal that streak has been, though, given that the club saw its worst ever Premier League side last season in relation to points on the board.
Before the game, a draw would have been a bad result. After the game, it still remains one, but there is better feeling in the fact that United came from two goals down to draw. The players showed spirit that they may have lacked in years gone by, and that draw on Wednesday night would have been a loss last campaign.
Results like this are inevitable in Ten Hag’s first season. The team are doing incredibly well, the feel-good factor is there, and there is a takeover on the horizon too. The draw should not diminish the good mood.
In relation to the players, it was great to see Rashford continue to shine and for Sancho to score as it will have done the latter the world of good. There was no Antony and Aaron Wan-Bissaka, and their replacements in Dalot and Garnacho were not at their best, sadly. Sabitzer looked steady on his full debut, and Fred just played like Fred; it was one good thing followed by one bad thing for ninety minutes.
The Reds move!
What is next?
Next up for Ten Hag and United is a Leeds United again, this time at Elland Road on Sunday 12th February at 14:00 (BST).
Following on from that, United face none other than Barcelona at Camp Nou on Thursday 16th February at 17:45 (BST).