David de Gea was clutch as Manchester United weathered a first-half storm before beating Brentford 3-1 at the Brentford Community Stadium on Wednesday.

Brentford began the game on the front foot and created several goalscoring opportunities in the first half. On the other hand, the best Manchester United managed was a long-range effort from Diogo Dalot that was marginally off target. Manchester United needed David de Gea at his very best to keep the Brentford attackers at bay, with the save to deny Mathias Jensen standing out.

After the break, the Red Devils were much-improved and broke the deadlock with their first major opening, as Fred found Anthony Elanga before he skillfully nodded the ball past Jonas Lossl. The opening goal gave Manchester United the license to express themselves better, and they doubled their advantage in the 62nd minute through Mason Greenwood.

Scott started the move that Cristiano Ronaldo opened up before Bruno Fernandes unleashed a lung-busting run and set Greenwood up for a simple tap-in. The visitors remained in control after that and rounded off the win in the 77th minute, as Marcus Rashford scored from the edge of the box after being found by Fernandes.

But there was time for another goal as Ivan Toney pulled a goal back through a melee, although that was too little too late. The result means Manchester United collected much-needed three points, and The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over Ralf Rangnick’s men.

David de Gea: 8/10

As has been the running theme throughout the season, David de Gea stands strong when Manchester United stumble. The Spaniard was clutch in the first half, making a raft of saves to keep the score 0-0 heading into the break. In all, he made seven saves, although he could not have done much to deny Ivan Toney. His distribution has to improve, though.

Diogo Dalot: 7/10

With Aaron Wan-Bissaka unavailable for a few games, Dalot had the chance to cement his place in the side. His performance on Wednesday would have gone a long way in doing so, and he came the closest to scoring for Manchester United in an appalling first half. His crosses need some work, but he was sound defensively, completing crucial clearances (seven) and interceptions (four).

Victor Lindelof: 6/10

For a second successive game, Lindelof was included ahead of Harry Maguire at the heart of the Manchester United defence. But a shaky performance against Brentford means Maguire will be in contention to return to the team against West Ham United. The Swede struggled to find his feet in the first half, although he did make one important block. His passing bailed him out on a few occasions.

Raphael Varane: 7/10

Varane was the only Manchester United outfield player who looked calm and collected in the face of the Brentford onslaught. The Frenchman was imperious in the air, winning nine aerial duels. He also made several important clearances (six) and tackles (three). He needs to stay fit to help Manchester United clinch a top-four berth.

Alex Telles: 5/10

Recent reports have claimed that Rangnick prefers Telles to Luke Shaw, which has shown in his repeated inclusion in the side. But the Brazilian international has not been vindicating the Manchester United interim boss. Wednesday’s showing was another one to forget for Telles, whose crosses were aimless and defending sub-par. He has to do better.

Fred: 7/10

Fred was a little slow off the blocks and struggled to find stability in his game during the Brentford onslaught in the first half. But the Brazilian was the one to set Manchester United on their way, as it was his pass through the lines that found Anthony Elanga for the opener. He can do wonders in a box-to-box midfield role.

Scott McTominay: 7/10

McTominay essentially sat at the base of the 4-3-3 formation that Rangnick had alluded towards during his pre-match press conference. The Scot took some time to get used to the demands of the position, but he was unflappable once he found his feet. McTominay worked hard throughout the game, winning ten duels while completing several important clearances and tackles. He even came close with a long-range effort.

Mason Greenwood: 6/10

Like most of his teammates, Greenwood was a mess in the first half. In fact, the English prodigy was nowhere to be seen. But he started embracing more responsibility after the break and popped up in the right place at the right time to score Manchester United’s second of the night. One of the players who would have derived some much-needed confidence from their performances.

Bruno Fernandes: 7/10

To say that Bruno Fernandes was dreadful in the first half would be an understatement. The Portuguese playmaker played aimless passes and was not on the same wavelength with his teammates. That changed after the break, as he linked up marvellously with those around him and set up two goals. By the end of the game, Fernandes had played a game-high four key passes. He might be slowly getting back to his best.

Anthony Elanga: 6.5/10

Making a second successive start, Elanga struggled to vindicate Rangnick’s decision in the opening period when Brentford outplayed Manchester United. But the young prospect started the second half on the best possible note, collecting Fred’s pass brilliantly before nodding the ball past Jonas Lossl. He has taken his opportunities well and will hope for more starts in the coming weeks.

Cristiano Ronaldo: 6/10

Back in the starting lineup after recovering from a hip injury, Ronaldo endured a frustrating night at the Brentford Community Stadium. The Portuguese international struggled to get into the game in the first half but set the tone for Manchester United onslaught after the interval by hitting the crossbar from Bruno Fernandes’s cross.

He also sent his compatriot on his way in the build-up to Greenwood’s goal. Taken off in the 71st minute to preserve him after a short layoff, Ronaldo did not take to his substitution kindly and threw a hissy fit in the dugout. One would expect better decorum from the veteran forward.

SUBSTITUTES

Marcus Rashford: 7/10

Shortly after being brought on, Rashford produced a superb finish from the edge of the Brentford box to make it 3-0. The goal should do wonders for his confidence, as the Englishman looks for a way back to his best.

Harry Maguire: 6/10

Maguire’s introduction paved the way for the creation of a back three, with a dismayed Ronaldo making way for him. The Manchester United captain kept the ship steady, although his passing left a lot to be desired.

Nemanja Matic: N/A

A late introduction, Matic helped see the game out.

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