Manchester United made heavy weather of their Premier League fixture at Leeds United on Sunday, but came away with a 4-2 victory. Harry Maguire and Bruno Fernandes sent United 2-0 up in pouring rain at Elland Road, only for United to concede twice in less than 30 seconds early in the second half. Thankfully, late goals from substitutes Fred and Anthony Elanga restored United’s two-goal cushion before the final whistle.
Leeds created the first chance of the match after just five minutes, when referee Paul Tierney failed to spot a clear foul on Aaron Wan-Bissaka. Having taken the ball and a fair chunk of ankle, Mateusz Klich chipped a delicate pass in behind the United right-back, only for Jack Harrison to slice wide at David de Gea’s near post.
The game got off to a disjointed opening thanks to a combination of poor weather and frequent fouls. Five minutes were added after midfielder Robin Koch took a nasty whack from Scott McTominay, resulting in blood gushing from his forehead and his eventual replacement some 10 minutes later.
Paul Pogba remained unperturbed by the conditions, and was the best player on the pitch through the first half. Midway through he rolled languidly away from Adam Forshaw on the left of the Leeds box and put a low cross on a platter for Cristiano Ronaldo. Alas, the ball stuck to the wet turf, stopping Ronaldo from putting his boot through it, and Illan Meslier was able to make an unlikely save.
Five minutes later, some more smart play from Pogba saw him shrug off Forshaw and roll across for an unmarked Bruno Fernandes, whose curling shot from the edge of the box was palmed behind. The subsequent corner brought United’s lead, with Luke Shaw’s delivery powered home by the under-fire Harry Maguire.
Not to be out-done, Maguire’s central defensive partner Victor Lindelöf — whose distribution was impressive throughout the first half — played a crucial role in the Reds’ stoppage time second. He drove forward from defence, playing a couple of give-and-gos with Jadon Sancho. The winger dinked a cross into the Leeds box, which Fernandes headed beyond Meslier and into the back of the net.
United’s hopes for a routine win were dashed within eight minutes of the restart when Leeds pulled one back in freakish fashion. Jesse Lingard and Wan-Bissaka were caught short out on United’s right, allowing Rodrigo the space to pick a looping cross that curled over de Gea and straight into the top corner.
Within moments, the hosts were level. Some more sloppy play out on the right of United’s defence allowed Dan James to slide a low cross straight across the face of goal, where halftime substitute Raphinha beat Luke Shaw to tap home. All of United’s hard work was undone—again—in the space of 24 seconds.
With the game opening up as it headed into the final quarter, Rangnick opted to bring Fred and Anthony Elanga on for Pogba and Lingard. It seemed a peculiar decision after Pogba’s fine first half performance, but within minutes of his introduction, Fred had made his chance count. United sprung forward on the counter through Fernandes down the right, and quickly worked the ball over to the left side of the Leeds box via Ronaldo and Sancho. Fred’s overlapping run caught the Leeds defence unawares, and he smacked a fine finish past Meslier from a tight angle.
Elanga should’ve immediately killed the game off after being sent clean through by the impressive Sancho, though his shot was extremely poor, lacking power and placement from point-blank range. Leeds responded with a couple of good chances of their own before Rangnick opted to bring Raphaël Varane on for Ronaldo, shifting United into a back three.
With just over a minute of the 90 left, United finally secured the points. A low pass was fizzed into Fernandes on the edge of the Leeds box, whose excellent first touch spun the ball in behind for Elanga to slide home. Again United had made hard work of things, but on the balance of play, it was a deserved win.