A start to best any of the starts that we’ve seen in Premier League history. McTominay etched into the books after scoring two goals within the first three minutes of the match. A mad match to kick off an old bitter rivalry that had been missing in the top flight for 16 years. A sweet daisycutter with the right in the first minute swiftly followed by a left footed finish after an outstanding first touch with his right foot. Bruno Fernandes got onto the scoresheet with a strong finish, that made in 3-0 in 20 minutes. There was still much more to come. Lindelof latched onto a Martial flick on to make it 4. Liam Cooper clawed one back just before half-time for the White Yorkshire side. The second half had a little lull and then a Bruno customary pen and a first Daniel James goal in 16 months made it 6. Leeds came back again with a sweet curler from Stuart Dallas, completing a mad few minutes that were microcosmic of the mad first half. A win that puts us 5 off the top, with a game in hand, and into 3rd place in the table.
The strengths of this United side under Ole is pretty clear to see. When they are given space to run in behind, you bring on all sorts of mayhem because when the red arrows begin to dart, you nary see a team that can stop them from getting the goals. Pre-Bruno, probably the performance of the season came in those first 30 mins at the Etihad when red darts kept streaming across the blue moon, where Rashford and Martial managed to put us ahead. But why it was relevant was that the line up was the exact same as the one Ole picked today and it was quite obvious that the gameplan would be shared as well – counter. Because under Bielsa, this Leeds team will give up space due to their aggressive man to man marking across the pitch. It was set up perfectly. It was executed perfectly. The turnovers were forced in the Leeds half for both of the opening goals, down our left hand side. The first time, it broke to Fernandes who laid it off for the McTominay daisycutter. The second to Martial, who reversed it for McTominay to finish calmly. United knew where the fruits were going to be handed out today. Such is the confidence of the system, you seldom see a Leeds player wait to see attacks develop before they charge forward. It leaves them so vulnerable on the turnovers and that is where they can be attacked. The third was just a further example of it and it was best example of the Red Devils ensuring their first pass out into the link or front man was crisp and early. This time it was for the link man, in Fernandes and he played it round the corner, as he did against Sheffield Utd on the third goal, before the play developed further and he was able to slot home. The fifth summed up McTominay’s day as he drove into space and picked out James, somewhat fortuitously, which he took with an excellent first touch and finished through the legs. The space in the game suits these players so much because when there is enough, they put their imprint on the game time and time again
The Great Scott
It would be remiss of me not to give Scott McTominay his own section because simply put, there was not a man out there that even came close to touching him in terms of being man of the match. Forget the two goals and assist for James, he was excellent in his all round midfield play. When he has the ability to stretch his legs and carry the ball, it is where we see him at his best. It’s one of the few traits that stand out, apart from the obvious willingness to run and physicality and against Leeds. He could match the running power of all the Leeds midfielders and often worries about space developing in front of our back four a lot, stationing himself close by so that Maguire and Lindelof are never too exposed. It is the most outstanding play he has produced in a red shirt and perhaps in his play, his second half might have been better than his first. He should have had another assist if Martial managed to have his shooting boots on but his regular forays into space kept causing The Whites a multitude of issues. A great day that was almost capped off with a perfect hat-trick had a cross from Martial been lofted a bit more so that it would miss the head of Luke Ayling. Alas, it ended sadly with his groin being tweaked after one of those many powerful runs forwards but it is a day that will be remembered more for those historic first three minutes.
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