Paul Pogba and Marcus Rashford stood out as Manchester United came from behind to eke out a narrow 3-2 win over Sheffield United at Bramall Lane on Thursday.
In what was a horrific start to the game, Manchester United went behind just five minutes in, as Dean Henderson took too long to release the ball after receiving a back-pass from Harry Maguire. This allowed Oliver Burke to close in on the former Sheffield United loanee and force a mistake out of him. David McGoldrick then pounced on the stray ball and tapped in for the opener.
Manchester United grew into the game thereafter and pulled the game back on level terms midway through the first half, as a brilliant long pass by Victor Lindelof released Marcus Rashford, whose driven shot found the back of the net. Shortly after, United went ahead as a first-time pass by Paul Pogba found Anthony Martial, who made no mistake in scoring his first league goal of the season.
The Red Devils continued to push forward and were 3-1 up early into the second period, when some more brilliance by Pogba initiated a brilliant team counter-attacking move, with Rashford scoring his second of the night. Manchester United, though, were in for a nervy finale when McGoldrick nodded in from a corner that never was.
It took a superb save by Henderson to keep Lys Mousset out late on, as Manchester United held on to their narrow advantage to finish Gameweek 13 6th on the Premier League table, just five points behind leaders Liverpool with a game in hand. The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men.
Dean Henderson: 5/10
Solskjaer perfectly summed up Dean Henderson’s outing on the night, when he said that it was the good, the bad and the ugly all rolled into one. The former Sheffield United loanee indeed made an ugly start to the game when he inexplicably made that mistake in the lead-up to David McGoldrick’s goal.
The good came in the form of a few fine saves, most notable of those being the late stop to deny Lys Mousset and keep Manchester United in front. The bad, though, was his non-reaction when McGoldrick scored his second, picking the ball out from the net. Just a part of his learning curve, though, and in the end, there was no harm done. Solskjaer will hope he learns from his errors.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka: 6/10
A performance that was just par for the course. Wan-Bissaka was decent enough at the back to win 4 of the 6 duels he contested. However, going forward, he typically did little of note and the fact that he lost the ball 13 times is quite a concern. Needs to step up.
Victor Lindelof: 6.5/10
It was a largely solid performance by Lindelof, despite facing some hairy moments courtesy of the physical nature of Sheffield United’s gameplay. However, it was his imagination that released the pressure on Manchester United, as he set Rashford up for the equaliser. Half a point docked for not managing to clear the ball during the illegitimate corner that McGoldrick scored his second from.
Harry Maguire: 7/10
Like Lindelof, Maguire was reasonably solid for the most part on Thursday night. The Manchester United captain won 10 duels on the night, hardly letting McGoldrick get on top of him in the air. 3 clearances, 3 tackles and 2 interceptions helped release the pressure. Helped control the game for the most part with his precise passes from the back.
Alex Telles: 6.5/10
Telles still seems to be settling down at Manchester United and this was another performance that suggested the same. While he was an outlet going down the left flank and created a couple of chances as well, he was wasteful with the ball too. Conceded the corner that led to McGoldrick’s second, but in reality it was a brilliant last-ditch tackle that should have earned a goal-kick.
Paul Pogba: 9/10
Paul Pogba’s game by numbers vs. Sheffield United:
82% pass accuracy
15 final third passes
8 ball recoveries
6/8 long passes
A really strong performance in the middle of the park. 💪 pic.twitter.com/KiZuGMlEIH
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) December 17, 2020
The speculation around Pogba and his future at Manchester United has been growing like wildfire lately. Pogba, though, is fortunately letting his game do all the talking amid all this and after a slow start to the game, he took control. Released Martial with a peach of a first-time ball and initiated the move for Rashford’s second with a brilliant bit of skill. Controlled the game superbly otherwise.
Nemanja Matic: 7/10
Back into the side to afford Fred some rest, Matic was typically unassuming in his display against Sheffield United. The Serb hardly lost the ball and aimed to progress play at every opportunity, and his defensive coverage made him the perfect foil for Pogba and the Manchester United attackers. A solid display.
Mason Greenwood: 6/10
Stationed on the right wing, Greenwood struggled to get involved all that much. Largely pinned to the right flank, though, it did help open up spaces for the likes of Bruno Fernandes and Rashford. Decision making still needs some improvement, but he did well to play his part in the build-up to Rashford’s second.
Bruno Fernandes: 7/10
This was a second successive game when Bruno Fernandes was not directly involved in a goal, quite unheard of during his Manchester United stint so far. However, the Portuguese international was still involved in two of the goals, linking up superbly with Pogba for the last two Manchester United goals. His involvement in the third, in particular, was delightful and his quick releases made that counter.
Marcus Rashford: 9/10
A top class performance by Rashford, who showcased better finishing skills than he has in recent games. Aaron Ramsdale had no answer for his driven shot and while Rashford was a tad fortunate for his second, his shot had a sting in it. Could have done better to help Telles out on the left, but all in all, this was the kind of performance that is needed from him regularly as pointed in our preview.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) December 17, 2020
Anthony Martial: 7/10
Back into the starting lineup after regaining sharpness, Martial finally had a game to remember. The Frenchman showed brilliant awareness to first score his maiden Premier League goal of the season before setting Rashford up for what turned out to be the match-winning goal. Could have scored more, but will take heart from his performance nonetheless. Needs to push on from here.
Juan Mata: 6/10
On for the final quarter of an hour or so, Mata kept play ticking but was also sloppy at times. But, he nearly found the back of the net with a fine effort too. Did enough.
Donny van de Beek: N/A
Hardly saw the ball after coming on, with Sheffield United pushing forward with menace.
Scott McTominay: N/A
A late introduction, McTominay helped see the game out.