Manchester United held off a spirited Leeds comeback to win 4-2 at Elland Road on Super Sunday, thanks to goals from Fred and Elanga.
Man United knew they couldn’t afford to drop points in the race to finish in the Premier League’s top four after wins for Tottenham and Arsenal on Saturday, and after withstanding plenty of early Leeds pressure, the ferocious Elland Road atmosphere, and the sodden conditions, the visitors grew into the game.
They should have taken the lead in the 26th minute when Cristiano Ronaldo squandered a golden opportunity to score. Paul Pogba beat Adam Forshaw to a low cross that seemed like it would be tapped in by Cristiano Ronaldo, but Illan Meslier showed excellent reactions to keep the score equal.
Man United, on the other hand, quickly silenced the home crowd when they finally scored from a corner at the 140th attempt. Diego Llorente was beaten by Harry Maguire, with the under-pressure United captain smashing home a header and turning away to celebrate in front of the Leeds supporters.
After Jadon Sancho’s excellent cross teed up Bruno Fernandes to head home to make it 2-0 at half-time, the visitors would celebrate again deep into six minutes of stoppage time.
Leeds, who had previously replaced Robin Koch with Junior Firpo due to a head injury, made a double substitution with Raphinha and Joe Gelhardt replacing Jack Harrison and Llorente as they attempted to get back into the game, and it exploded into life for the home side.
Rodrigo’s hopeful left-footed cross, which was aimed at Raphinha, somehow beat David de Gea, giving Leeds a much-needed lifeline.
United had barely regained their breath when the hosts surged forward again, with Daniel James delivering a low cross to the far post for Raphinha to convert just 24 seconds later. In the build-up, the video assistant referee checked for a Forshaw foul on Fernandes, but the goal stood and sent Elland Road into raptures.
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The visitors then made their own double change, which Rangnick took advantage of by bringing in Fred and Anthony Elanga to replace the excellent Pogba and Jesse Lingard. The strategy paid off in the 70th minute, when Fred rifled past Meslier to restore United’s lead.
In the 89th minute, Elanga, who had been wounded by a missile during the celebrations of Fred’s goal, raised his finger to his lips in joy after sliding past Meslier to round off a massive win for Manchester United.
What comes next?
On Wednesday, Leeds United travel to Anfield to face Liverpool in the Premier League; kick-off is at 7.30 p.m.
Meanwhile, Manchester United will play Atletico Madrid in the Champions League last 16 on Wednesday (kick-off 8pm), followed by a Premier League match against Watford on Saturday (kick-off 3pm).