Manchester United got back to their winning ways with a 3-2 comeback win over Nottingham Forest at Old Trafford on Saturday, overcoming a very worrying early 2-0 deficit to the visitors and taking control of the game in the second half.
Steve Cooper’s side had the Reds reeling early, scoring twice in the first four minutes of the match, but quality prevailed in the end for a team that very much needs to steer things in the right direction.
A slow start by the Reds is a bit of an understatement considering the nature of Nottingham Forest’s goals, but for the sake of staying nice we’ll go with that. Taiwo Awoniyi charged onto a rebounded United corner and had only to beat Marcus Rashford tracking back before he was through on Andre Onana. The Cameroonian couldn’t decide whether or not to charge out, and stumbled over himself as Awoniyi approached and buried the chance calmly.
Moments later Willy Boly headed in a Morgan Gibbs-White free kick cross deflected off of Lisandro Martinez, doubling the lead by the fourth minute and spelling doom for a United side already under scrutiny.
The Reds responded by taking charge of possession, gradually building up to creating chances and even getting a goal back through Christian Eriksen in the 17th minute. Marcus Rashford took on and beat Serge Aurier near the byline to the left of the goal, and found Eriksen arriving to finish a nice pass across goal.
Casemiro should have found the equalizer a few minutes later, whiffing on a chance from close range, but United went into the break trailing after failing to equalize early on.
At halftime Erik ten Hag made the decision to replace Raphael Varane with Victor Lindelof, a decision likely made for form over fitness, but it seemed to work as United remained firmly in control of possession. They equalized seven minutes after the restart through Casemiro, who didn’t miss his second chance from point blank range, and it was game on from there.
Forest, admittedly not the strongest side in the Premier League, struggled dealing with United’s attack, and it would get Joe Worral sent off for a denial of clear goalscoring opportunity by clumsily running through Bruno Fernandes trying to prevent a run in behind. The free kick routine that followed nearly produced the third goal, but Diogo Dalot wasn’t up to speed on the Portuguese maestro’s pass across.
It wouldn’t matter much as Marcus Rashford was brought down in the box by Aurier a few minutes later, again struggling to keep up with United’s no. 10, and Bruno Fernandes lasered the penalty past Matt Turner to put the Reds ahead.
Forest responded with a few chances in the closing stages and during the 11-plus minutes of added time, but the defense dealt with it well. Onana made a nice diving save as well to deny Boly a volley (haha) from the edge of the area.
United nearly secured the lead as well through a couple nice chances for Marcus Rashford. The first was saved by Turner after he couldn’t quite get the right power on it, and the second was blocked by a defender. They pushed for more chances in transition, but they just couldn’t quite fall for Rashford, who was clearly desperate to get off the mark for the season. It just wasn’t meant to be on the day.
United and ten Hag extended their winning streak at home, but there’s plenty to work on and improve before another trip to London next week to face Arsenal.