Red Devils back to winning ways

mufc-lcfc-16A rampant first half from the Red Devils saw them run Leicester City ragged at Old Trafford today, as after a timid start in the match, the Red Devils suddenly burst into life after the quarter-hour mark, and scored 4 goals before half-time. Due to his recent low-profile performances, Rooney was dropped out of the starting eleven for this game, and his replacement, Mata, was influential to United in the build-up of this win, while Pogba finally made his mark as well in the Premier League, by scoring his first goal following his lucrative transfer. This win builds up to the EFL Cup Third Round match played in midweek against Northampton Town, after the Red Devils had suffered three defeats in a row in their previous outings.

The opening 15 minutes or so were almost balanced for both teams, until the 22nd minute, when United won a corner-kick. Blind delivered a perfect cross, and Smalling rose highest to head home the opener. The Red Devils seemed to have found a new breath from this goal, looking as if Mourinho had injected them with nitrous oxide, as they had completely gained the upper hand in all sections of the field, and moving forward to look for more goals as one unit instead of individuals. Zlatan surprised me today with a more collective approach, and his pass minutes after the goal could have handed United a two-goal lead, had Rashford been able to properly control and execute his volley. Zlatan himself could have found the net minutes later, after Pogba found him with a delighful chipped ball, but the big Swede rocketed his volley just over the bar after controlling and turning past his marker, but the crowd could sense today was not going to be the usual boring match-day, and roared on. The second goal was beckoning for the hosts, and came on the 37th minute. Mata initiated the move, and concluded it as well, with a link-up between Pogba and Lingard in-between. The latter managed to deflect the ball across the box to meet Mata’s run, and Mata’s volley was unstoppable for Zieler despite the keeper at full stretch. United were not done yet, as three minutes later, Rashford got his name on the scoresheet. A quick corner sent in low by Blind saw Mata run onto the ball, and cut across a pass as the whole defense got sucked up to his run, and Rashford found himself unmarked in front of goal to tap home. And 2 minutes later, on the 42nd minute, Pogba completed the riot and piled up more misery on Leicester, as he met Blind’s corner kick with a perfect header to the far post, relieving some pressure off his shoulders with his first goal in a red shirt. Leicester were completely torn apart, but anything could happen in the second half as well.

United started the second half more in conservation mode, as they kept the ball, but not really going forward to try add more goals. However, youngster Gray, sent on at half-time to try rekindle Leicester’s attack, gave United something to think about as he let fly a real beauty from about 25 yards out, and into the top left corner of De Gea, despite the keeper being at full stretch to try stop the rocket. 4-1, the game was still on. Zlatan tried to provide a response at the other end, but Zieler was quick to the ground to push his attempt around the post for a corner-kick, which did not bring any goal this time for United. As the game wore on, United seemed content to keep the 3-goal lead, but De Gea had to be vigilant, as the same Gray again sent in a similar ball, this time thou looking more like a cross than a shot, but it could have caught the keeper, had he not on his toes, and this time managed to palm the ball out to prevent United from suffering a more tense finish. Rooney eventually came on to play out the last 10 minutes or so, but was not really influential in increasing the lead, and United and Mourinho did well to claim a moral-boosting win, although questions will remain on Rooney’s fitness and impact in the team, but for the time being, it’s the 3 points that matter, and a good preparation for the second game for the Europa League competition coming up next Thursday. Let’s hope Mourinho’s re-building start from here, and United move to a higher level soon to become the threat they once were under a certain SAF…