Manchester United won their fourth-straight league road match with a 2-3 victory over Sheffield United at Bramall Lane following two goals from Marcus Rashford and one from Anthony Martial.
However, the final scoreline did not reflect the start of the match that featured a familiar malaise from the Reds.
Sheffield United was aggressive early with their press. Looking to play out of the back, former Sheffield keeper Dean Henderson had a kickabout with Victor Lindelöf and Harry Maguire. With Sheffield forwards charging as Maguire passed the ball back to Henderson, the keeper was dispossessed, and David McGoldrick was there to clean up the mess and put the Blades up early in the fifth minute.
The press from Sheffield did yield space that United tried to exploit early but were thwarted by mistimed runs. But, in the 26th minute, Lindelöf saw the Sheffield back line pushing up for the trap and the Swede laced a ball up the center to Rashford who timed his run perfectly. Deftly sticking out his right foot to drop the ball in his stride, the forward put his laces through it to beat the charging keeper and level the score.
With the match level, United would start to turn the screws. In the 33rd minute, Bruno Fernandes cut inside from the right and played a casual ball to Paul Pogba. The Frenchman kept his eyes ahead as the ball drifted to him and he one-timed a chip perfectly to Martial who had found an opening between the Sheffield centrebacks. Martial progressed the ball into the box, maneuvered it past a charging Aaron Ramsdale, and put in a shot to finally get off the mark.
The pass from Pogba to Martial was absolutely phenomenal, but what was equally impressive is his ability to scan while the pass to him has already been played. A very difficult skill to master. #SHUMUN pic.twitter.com/bItW5j8w7d— Eric Laurie (@EricLaurie) December 17, 2020
United would find the back of the net for the third time in the 51st minute. Breaking on the counter, Rashford raced up the pitch, creating an interplay with Fernandes and Martial in transition before Martial laid the ball off to an unmarked Rashford at the top of the box. Rashford wasted no time burying his attempt to secure a brace.
With the match seemingly in the bag for the Reds, Sheffield United earned a corner kick in the 87th minute. The subsequent corner was delivered to the back post to McGoldrick who got his head on it and it pitifully fell into the goal past Henderson to complete his brace and halve the lead.
Sheffield, with renewed vigor in stoppage time, nearly found the equalizer as a shot was rocketed on frame and Henderson had to make a leaping save to make up for his past indiscretions.
In what’s becoming a trend, today’s match saw the Reds trail early before scoring three goals — a feat they have accomplished in four straight away matches. Despite the uncomfortable finish, it was important to see the likes of Rashford and Martial bag goals as they try to live up to the promise of last season’s returns.
United shot back up to sixth in the current Premier League table on 23 points with a game in hand over the rest of the top 5. With two points separating the good guys and second-placed Tottenham Hotspur and five points from first-placed Liverpool, the rest of the festive period will be pivotal in setting up United for a possible second-half of the season charge.
Manchester United return to Old Trafford Sunday, Dec. 20 to host Leeds United and renew the long-dormant rivalry between the old foes. We’re all in for a cracker if the two clubs play with the same openness that occurred during today’s match with Sheffield.