Man United Salvage A Draw At Home Against Old Rivals Leeds

Manchester United salvaged a 2-2 draw against rivals Leeds United at Old Trafford.

73,456 fans saw Wilfried Gnoto open the scoring with a Raphael Varane own goal doubling Leeds lead, before goals from Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho rescued United a point.

Sancho’s return to the scoresheet was a standout moment of the game, welcomed enormously by a bouncing Old Trafford.

Previous clashes

Manchester United and Leeds United have been fierce rivals dating back to the 15th century in the War of the Roses, with Leeds representing the white rose of Yorkshire and Manchester United representing the red rose of Lancaster.

Thus, any matchup between the sides has significant meaning, regardless of form or competition.

In their previous 111 matchups, the Red Devils have won 49 games, drawing 37 and losing 26. Therefore, statistically United had the edge.

However, this matchup was a battle which history wouldn’t dictate. Thus, previous results meant very little.


Manchester United:

  • David De Gea
  • Diogo Dalot
  • Raphael Varane
  • Lisandro Martinez
  • Luke Shaw
  • Fred
  • Marcel Sabitzer
  • Alejandro Garnacho
  • Marcus Rashford
  • Bruno Fernandes
  • Wout Weghorst

Leeds United:

  • Illan Meslier
  • Luke Ayling
  • Robin Koch
  • Maximilian Wober
  • Pascal Sruijk
  • Tyler Adams
  • Weston McKennie
  • Luis Sinisterra
  • Jack Harrison
  • Wilfried Gnoto
  • Patrick Bamford

Statement selections

Manchester United manager Erik Ten Hag immediately brought Dalot back into the starting eleven.

The Portuguese fullback was sidelined for a couple weeks with a hamstring injury. This inclusion was a bold decision by the Dutch manager, as Aaron Wan Bissaka had stepped up in his place.

However, with Ten Hag’s style of play revolving around comfort in possession and quick passing football, picking Dalot wouldn’t have surprised many.

Sabitzer made his starting debut for United, faced with the difficult job of replacing Casemiro in midfield.

With Van De Beek, Christian Eriksen and Casemiro all unavailable, Sabitzer’s jump into the starting eleven was a necessity.

Leeds Caretaker manager Michael Skubala, made two changes from the side that lost to Nottingham Forest just three days prior. Liam Cooper dropped to the bench, replaced by Robin Koch. Spanish midfielder Marc Roca was replaced by new signing McKennie.

Match Overview

With the new manager bounce coming into full effect, Leeds came firing out of the blocks, capitalising on United’s sluggish start to take the lead within a minute of the game starting.

Gnoto picked the ball up off the left flank, passing it into Bamford, who laid it back to Gnoto, who struck an arrowing shot past De Gea into the bottom left corner.

Leeds almost doubled their lead after a whipped cross fell to Struijk at the back post, who’s effort on goal was superbly flicked away by United’s Spanish goalkeeper.

After a slow start, the Manchester side began to crawl their way back into the game.

Garnacho came bitterly close to levelling the game, after Fernandes produced a defence splitting pass for the Argentinian winger to run onto. The youngster took the ball round Meslier in goal, but his effort was superbly blocked on the line by Wober.

New signing Sabitzer was denied of a dream debut goal after his left footed strike was destined for the top corner, but for the French goalkeeper to deny him.

Subsequently, the away side went into the break 1-0 up.

Three minutes into the 2nd half, Leeds shocked United to take a 2-0 lead.

Gnoto found himself slid in behind the United defence, and in looking to cut the ball back, his pass deflected off Varane into the United net to double their lead.

In the 59th minute, Ten Hag made the decision to send Jadon Sancho and Facundo Pellistri on in the place of Garnacho and Weghorst.

Just three minutes later, Rashford headed United back into the game. Dalot whipped in a first time delivery to United’s number 10, who fired his header past Meslier.

In the 65th minute, fresh off of the bench, Brenden Aaronson came agonisingly close to restoring Leeds’ two goal lead, after his freekick struck the outside off the left woodwork.

Five minutes later, super sub Sancho levelled the scoring. Shaw had a deflected cross fall to the English winger, who’s shot went through Meslier and into the Leeds net.

In the 78th minute, United thought they’d completed the comeback, when French defender Varane rose above Ayling to launch his header at the Leeds goal, but for Meslier to pull out a top class save to deny him.

The dying embers of the game saw United create half chances, but none great enough to snatch the three points away from their rivals.

Thus, the game ended in a 2-2 draw.

Key battles

With both Leeds and Manchester United making new midfield signings, the midfield battle was a key area. Early in the game, United struggled with Leeds’ American midfield.

Sabitzer wasn’t bad, but failed to fill Casemiro’s boots, struggling to be the deep lying playmaker that picked the ball off the centre halves.

Fred had issues all game. Despite being on good form, it wasn’t the Brazilian midfielders best game, consistently giving the ball away and disrupting any rhythm United tried to create.

Garnacho vs Ayling was a pivotal battle.

As a result of Antony’s injury, Garnacho started off the left wing.

Throughout the game, the experienced fullback had the upper hand on the young winger, preventing him from making his typical bursting dribbles past the fullback.

This further disrupted United’s flow as any attacks off the left flank where immediately being cut out.

Rashford on the right flank against Struijk was important. Due to Garnacho’s comfort off the left wing, Rashford was forced away from his preferred left side.

In recent seasons, Shaw and Rashford have built up great chemistry on that left flank, and thus Rashford struggled to have the same impact off the right.

However, by subbing Weghorst, Ten Hag got it right, as this brought greater fluidity into United’s attack, which subsequently lead to Rashford’s header and United’s comeback.

How United earned a draw

United started woefully. Regardless of the goal, the response was just as bad.

The players looked like they had just woken up, and nothing to suggest they knew it was a rivalry. Leeds looked more likely to double their lead then for United to score.

However, United did grow into the game. Towards the end of the half, United were pushing for an equaliser.

However, after conceding a second, it was Ten Hag’s changes which ultimately turned the game. By bringing off Garnacho and Weghorst, it freed Rashford to move upfront and brought the footballing intelligence of Sancho into the fold.

As a result, both goals came from these changes. Sancho’s performance was one the Dutch manager will definitely be very happy about.

His ability in tight spaces to find the right pass and progress the ball was something which United lacked in the first half.

Despite Garnacho’s driven qualities, the intricate nature of a subtle pass between the defenders can sometimes be incredibly influential, and this was one of those occasions.

With United’s facing Leeds again on Sunday at Elland Road, Ten Hag may look to use Sancho from the beginning, hoping to avoid such an uninspiring start again.

Next weeks prospects

After a huge clash at Old Trafford, the rivalry continues with both sides heading to Elland Road for the reverse fixture on Sunday. Leeds will be hoping to have appointed a permanent manager by then.

After this, United head to Spain to face Barcelona in the Europa League round of 32.

Whereas, Leeds head to Goodison Park to face Sean Dyche’s Everton.