Manchester United survived a stirring Leeds United comeback in the hostile atmosphere of Elland Road to claim a crucial three points in their quest for a top-four place.
As we have seen for weeks, United put together an impressive 45 minutes that included their first goal from a corner all season as under-fired captain Harry Maguire headed in Luke Shaw’s corner. When Bruno Fernandes headed home a cross from Jadon Sancho’s right on half-time, United seemed to have the points wrapped up.
But this is a fragile United side, who have folded time and time again this season at the first signs of pressure, and they did it again as Leads scored twice within a minute to tie the game.
First Rodrigo’s 53rd-minute cross drifted in behind keeper David de Gea, then substitute Raphinha sent Elland Road wild when he slid home a cross from Daniel James as Luke Shaw ball watched.
Not for the first time this season, United manager Ralf Rangnick made the moves that allowed United to regain hold of the game and United added two more goals from Fred and Anthony Elanga.
According to OptaStats, United have scored 10 Premier League goals via substitutes this season, four more than any other side. Five of those substitute goals have come under Ralf Rangnick.
Afterwards Rangnick spoke about the improvement in his team’s mentality:
“We knew that it was an important win today,” said Rangnick.
“I think a game like this one today you can only win as a team and with the mentality of a team,” added Rangnick. “This was, apart from the three points, the most important thing.”
“You could see how quickly things could change, we had a similar experience at Aston Villa and today it’s not easy for the players, and also for us as the staff members, to say ‘not again, please’.
“The reaction we showed after the second goal, it took us five minutes to shake ourselves but after those five minutes, we come back into the game, we controlled the game in the last 20 minutes, could and should have scored another two goals. I think the first chance Anthony Elanga had was almost bigger than the one he took at the end.”