Manchester United have finally managed to abandon their 6th spot which clung to them for such a long time, and they eventually moved to 5th spot after seeing off Middlesbrough on a 1-3 scoreline in today’s game, but it was a real test for them throughout the game as Boro planted some doubts before eventually allowing the Red Devils to put the game to bed.
United had a very subdued start, as the hosts looked to cause them problems in the opening minutes, as De Gea was forced to dive at full stretch to keep out a long range effort, but gradually the Red Devils got in the game, and Rashford should have scored on the 7th minute, but was denied by Valdes in the opposition goal. Boro however were also attacking at the other end, and United’s defense was not looking pretty when being put under pressure. Valdes however was the busier of the two keepers at the other end, as United saw a double chance pass up, with the former saving from Rashford, then from Valencia on the follow-up, but United were knocking hard on the door for the opener. And the opener arrived shortly after, as Young delivered a cross from his left side, and an unmarked Fellaini on the far side had the simple task to head home on the 30th minute. Boro kept the pressure on at the other end, but their attack was not clicking well to cause De Gea real problems, as the Red Devils held on to the single goal till half time.
The second half saw Boro threaten more as the Red Devils looked to defend their single goal lead, but on a quick counter attack just after the hour mark, United found themselves 0-2 ahead. Bailly won the ball in defense before feeding Mata near the half way line, and the latter passed on to Lingard who was on the same line as him. Lingard led the charge forward as Mata and Rashford accompanied him, and while all were waiting for him to pass to either players, he unleashed a right-footed shot from 20 yards out which left Valdes a mere spectator, and the ball flew into the top left corner of the net. United dropped further as they looked to defend this lead, but a defensive mix-up on the 77th minute got the better of them, added to the substitutions made earlier by Boro whereby the pace of Adama Traore was putting them in a very delicate situation every time he had the ball in his feet, as Mourinho swapped Mata for Rojo to provide more cover on the left side. It was new entrant Gestede who reduced the deficit on the 77th minute following a bad clearance first by Jones, followed by Bailly who was outmuscled, then Smalling completing missing his clearance to gift the ball to Gestede, who slotted home between the legs of De Gea. This goal gave renewed hopes to Boro as they poured forward in search of the equalizer, but lady luck was with the Red Devils today as on the 93rd minute, Valencia got on the scoresheet as well. Following a break on his right wing, Valencia tried to get past his defender instead of trying to find an unmarked Martial on the other side, but the defender robbed him and passed back to Valdes. Valencia however continued his run to put the pressure on Valdes, and the latter somehow lost his footing while trying to get control of the ball before clearing, leaving Valencia the ease to trot past him and push the ball into an open net. Mourinho was celebrating like mad this third goal while making his way to the dressing room even before the final whistle, but United were lucky to survive the late scare provided by Boro and with this win moved up to 5th place in the table after staying 6th for such a long time. Let’s hope they continue to keep the good results coming to get into the top 4 at least at the end of the season.