Manchester United got their first Premier League game win of 2022 with a 3-1 win over Brentford after a heroic second-half display.
Despite dominating 68% of the possession in a frantic first half, the Red Devils were underwhelming going forward and looked vulnerable against the hosts’ set-pieces and counter-attacks. Only the heroics of David de Gea kept things level going into half-time.
United were definitely given a hairdryer treatment at the break and came out a much more fired-up side in the second half. They took the lead in the 55th minute thanks to a really well-taken goal from Anthony Elanga to make it 1-0!
The Red Devils made it 2-0 in the 63rd minute after a really smooth link-up play between Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes, with the latter setting up an open-goal tap-in for Mason Greenwood.
United sealed the deal in the 78th minute thanks to a great finish from super-sub Marcus Rashford, making it 3-0! But this United team can’t keep a clean sheet to save their lives currently and some poor set-piece defending allowed Ivan Toney to pull one back and make it 3-1 in the 85th minute.
But this time, the Red Devils were able to avoid another meltdown, sealing an important win to hang onto the PL top-4 race. But they need to keep winning games consistently to actually get closer to that 4th spot.
Manchester United player ratings at Brentford
Ralf Rangnick (7.5)–
Rangnick has permanently ditched his 4-2-2-2 system and replaced it with a more flexible 4-3-3 formation which worked wonders on the day. While United were slow off the races, an inspired pep-talk from the gaffer at half-time made them come out all guns blazing in the second half – scoring 3 goals in just under 35 minutes to seal the deal.
He’ll get some flak for subbing out Ronaldo, but did so to ensure United again didn’t lose a comfortable lead. Rangnick ensured United controlled the game well, created plenty of chances and produced a rollercoaster of an away performance which proves there’s still some work to be done.
David de Gea (7.0) –
DDG’s forced into making a solid close-range save in the 12th. Makes another clutch save to deny a Brentford counter-attack in the 32nd. Deserved a clean sheet but sees those chances ruined by some awful set-piece defending.
Diogo Dalot (6.5) –
Dalot has started the game shakily and horribly gives away possession for a big Brentford chance in the 12th. Tries to redeem himself with an attempt from afar in the 25th that hits the side-netting. Recovered well in the second half after a really shaky first half and made some clutch challenges to frustrate Brentford.
Victor Lindelof (7.0) –
Lindelof keeps starting over the alleged unfit Maguire and looks composed under intimidating conditions. Grew in confidence as the game went on and kept Toney relatively quiet, making 6 clearances and winning 6 aerial duels. Tried his best to block Brentford’s strike but unable to.
Raphael Varane (7.5) –
Varane dealt with some of Brentford’s fast-break swiftly in the first half, but nearly scored a freak own goal in the 32nd. Makes a solid goal-saving clearance in the 76th. Helped his side deal with Brentford’s attacks well, winning 12 duels (including 9 aerial ones), making 3 clearances and 2 tackles – as well as maintaining a solid backline.
Alex Telles (6.5) –
The Brazilian makes a key goal-saving block from close-range in the 14th. Swung in some inviting crosses, but nobody can get to the end of them! Defensively quite assertive and kept things relatively quiet on his side.
Fred (7.0) –
The Brazilian was chaotic in midfield, losing some key duels – while also getting the ball past the Brentford midfielders smartly in the first half. Spotted out Elanga with a great chipped pass to set up his strike. After performing really well and creating chances through the game, makes a botched clearance leading to Toney’s goal. Sums him up really.
Scott McTominay (8.5) –
McTominay’s operating in no.6 defensive role today. Looks sharp and energetic early on, winning balls smartly and carrying the ball forward well. Makes a great run past multiple midfielders before trying an ambitious shot in the 57th that is parried away. Brilliantly won the ball in midfield before kick-starting the move leading to Rashford’s goal.
Excelled in the role, winning 9 duels, making 4 clearances, 2 tackles & 2 interceptions. Even made 5 successful dribbles, round-off a really complete performance in midfield.
Bruno Fernandes (8.5)–
After his brace against Aston Villa, Fernandes is high on confidence. Played too deep in midfield to create anything prominent in the first half. More aggressive after the break and makes a great run before setting up Greenwood’s tap-in with a smart pass. Showed great awareness to set up Rashford’s strike too.
Missed a glorious late chance to score, but Bruno drove United forward throughout the second half, got 2 assists and created 6 chances in another impressive away performance.
Mason Greenwood (7.0) –
Greenwood’s still looking for his first PL goal since October. Too isolated on the wings again. Breaks his goal duck with the easiest tap-in after tracking Bruno’s forward run nicely. His link-up play was slick, but needs to be more central to be involved with goal-scoring chances regularly.
Anthony Elanga (7.5) –
Nearly scores a smart looping header in the 9th that is barely saved. Surprisingly strong in challenges and moving the ball well into key areas. Makes a great run into the box and scores a clever goal – fooling the goalkeeper with a little flick followed up with a header. Was a breath of fresh air with his speedy runs and involved in some slick attacking moves through the game.
Cristiano Ronaldo (6.0) –
CR7’s back from injury and hungry for goals. His general link-up play still remains underwhelming. Hits the bar with a looping header in the 47th! Helped set up the second goal with an exquisite chested lay-off to send Bruno through on goal.
Lively in the second-half after barren first-half, but surprisingly taken off for Harry Maguire in the 70th minute! Did not look happy as he still searches for his first goal of 2022.
Marcus Rashford (7.0) –
Finishes off a smart swift-break with a smashing finish to add United’s third on the night. Looked bright and that goal should do a lot of good for his confidence.
Harry Maguire (5.5) –
Failed to ensure a clean sheet for his side.
Nemanja Matic (N/R) –
Able to help United see off the game.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Bruno played a key role in assisting two goals, but I feel like McTominay really excelled in his new no.6 role today. Won many key battles in midfield, carried the ball forward superbly and kicked off the moves for two goals too. I’ll give him the MOTM today.