Manchester United notched its second-straight statement win in the Champions League with a 5-0 demolition of Bundesliga-leaders RB Leipzig. Marcus Rashford recorded a hat trick off the bench while Mason Greenwood and Anthony Martial provided the other two goals.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looked to control the center of the park and employed a midfield diamond while giving Donny van de Beek his first Champion’s League start for the Reds. The diamond proved to be up to the task to start the match
After an enterprising start to the first half, the Reds would rightfully take the lead in the 21st minute. Fred forced a turnover in the Leipzig half and immediately played the ball to the feet of Paul Pogba. Seeing the Leipzig defenders on their heels, Pogba advanced play quickly up the center and played a surgical ball forward as Greenwood pulled away from the defense. Greenwood drifted to the left before dragging his attempt back across the goal. The ball would casually ping off the post and in as Greenwood slid on his knees in celebration.
The German side were spurred on by the early deficit and pressed for an equalizer. Christopher Nkunku and Angeliño made attempts on goal while pinning the Reds in their own half. However, the diamond midfield would prove effective as the likes of Nemanja Matić, Fred, and Pogba snuffed out most opportunities for Leipzig to build into anything. The first half ended with the Reds in control of the match.
United started the second half on the front foot again. In the 51st minute, Pogba picked out Martial with another incisive pass reminiscent of his earlier assist before Martial played a ball back to the center of the box. Leipzig’s Ibrahima Konaté went to ground to prevent any United attempts on goal and appeared to touch the ball with his arm but play continued, and United launched a couple of blocked shots before earning a corner. As United prepared to take its corner, VAR ruled that the handball was unavoidable and not deliberate, and a penalty was not awarded to United.
Significantly earlier than usual, Solskjaer would make three substitutions before the 70th minute. Marcus Rashford and Scott Mctominay replaced Greenwood and Matić — who was on a yellow card — in the 63rd minute before Bruno Fernandes replaced Donny van de Beek in the 68th minute.
Fernandes nearly found an assist in the first minute of being on the pitch. United earned a free kick right above the center of the box. The midfielder flicked the ball over an incredulous wall as Martial was the only player to make a move to the lofted ball. However, unlike when the trickery worked last season against Manchester City, Martial couldn’t quite get to the ball and Leipzig would end the hopes of a doubled lead.
Manchester United would earn a more favorable VAR decision in the 76th minute. United broke out on a counter attack and Fernandes played a ball to a rushing Rashford. Nearly everyone appeared to think Rashford was offside, but the forward would continue play and slot a ball past Leipzig’s Péter Gulácsi. VAR checked the play for several minutes before determining the doctor was in fact onside and the goal was given.
Rashford would not waste time punishing Leipzig again. In the 78th minute, Rashford received the ball in the Leipzig half and sliced his way past the defender to find himself one on one with the keeper. Rashford quickly fired a low-driven shot in the left side of the net that nearly rattled the frame of the goal.
Clumsy defending from Leipzig’s star man Marcel Sabitzer would yield a penalty to United in the 86th minute. Yet another well-timed, incisive pass unlocked Martial who was one on one with the keeper. Sabitzer came sliding in to take out Martial and the official pointed to the spot. Despite Fernandes on the pitch, Martial stepped up and played a powerful shot low and to the left that was too much for the keeper to handle.
And that's cherry on top. Anthony Martial from the penalty spot makes it 4-0. pic.twitter.com/h55UWeBXXQ— Champions League on CBS Sports (@UCLonCBSSports) October 28, 2020
Two minutes into stoppage time, Dr. Marcus Rashford MBE messed around and scored his hat trick. Martial dribbled a ball in from the left wing and glided a pass to Rashford at the top of the box. Rashford went all power on the shot and his attempt clanged off the keeper’s finger tips and into the back of the net.
He feeds kids, he scores goals. Marcus Rashford gets his hat trick! What a performance. pic.twitter.com/K0y1tm0Fnq— Champions League on CBS Sports (@UCLonCBSSports) October 28, 2020
The Reds return to the pitch on Sunday, Nov. 1 to face rivals, Arsenal in league play. Two points currently separate the two sides with Arsenal sitting at 11th and United at 15th. Stay tuned to The Busby Babe for all things related to the match.