Opening up the 2021/22 Premier League campaign with one of England’s most heated rivalries, Manchester United really managed to lay down what was a clinical marker on home soil.
Welcoming fans back to Old Trafford and backed by a vocal home support, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side picked up a thumping 5-1 victory against Leeds on Saturday lunchtime, a result that would have given them an almighty morale boost.
Putting on a rampant display against their rivals and also officially announcing the arrival of Raphael Varane from Real Madrid earlier in the day, the former champions also saw some of their biggest stars really steal the show.
On an afternoon that saw Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba make their own pieces of individual history, we have taken a look at the major talking points from Saturday’s opener.
Fernandes & Pogba show their class
Ending last year’s campaign with that heartbreaking Europa League final defeat against Villereal back in May, many across the Premier League were wondering if Manchester United would still be dealing with a hangover.
However, able to give summer arrival and England ace Jadon Sancho a run out for the final 15 minutes, it will be an afternoon that Solskjaer remembers for some time.
Dominating from the opening whistle and boosted by the return of fans to Old Trafford, Saturday’s hosts opened the scoring with 30 minutes on the clock as Bruno Fernandes managed to squeeze one under an onrushing Illan Meslier.
Picking up from where he left off last season after bagging 28 goals across all competitions during the 2020/21 campaign, United’s Portuguese playmaker wasn’t done there as he stormed his way to the Man of the Match award.
Bagging a quickfire brace after Leeds managed to level the score moments after the break, Fernandes recorded his first Manchester United hat-trick and only underlined his talisman status on the opening weekend.
Likewise, while the former Sporting Lisbon star might have left Old Trafford with the match-ball, there is no doubt that the influential Paul Pogba deserved plenty of praise.
While there might have been a string of speculation surrounding his future over the summer, the World Cup winner put in a dominant display in the middle of the park as he racked up four assists on what was a rampant afternoon for The Reds.
A nightmare start for Leeds
While there might have been a real party atmosphere around Old Trafford on Saturday lunchtime, it wouldn’t have been a surprise that Leeds were in a rush to get themselves back to Yorkshire.
Marking their Premier League return last season with an action-packed display at Anfield, The Whites were swept aside against their bitter rivals on the opening weekend once again.
Despite it finally being announced earlier in the week that the iconic Marcelo Bielsa had extended his stay at Elland Road, the former Napoli boss saw his side put in a display that was once again riddled with problems at the back.
Although they might have gained a host of plaudits from fans and pundits alike last season, Saturday’s guests failed to lay much of a blow on the former Premier League champions, despite Luke Ayling’s stunning equalizer a few minutes after the restart.
Failing to gain much momentum during their summer preparations and suffering defeats against the likes of Fleetwood and a 4-0 drumming at the hands of Ajax, Bielsa’s decision to leave Kalvin Phillips on the bench also raised some eyebrows.
Along with watching Patrick Bamford fail to gain any kind of foothold in proceedings, Leeds were heavily overrun in the middle of the park by the likes of Pogba and Fernandes.
Desperate to put Saturday’s drumming behind them, Bielsa’s side will be glad to make a return to home soil next weekend when they host Everton at Elland Road.
Manchester United lay down their marker
Watching both Pogba and hat-trick hero Fernandes put on what was arguably their best performance as a duo, there is no doubt that Solskjaer would have been hugely excited by his side’s display from across the pitch.
Not taking a backward step after Ayling stunned the Old Trafford crowd moments after the break, Mason Greenwood was another standout performer as he managed to open his account seconds after Leeds leveled the scoreline.
Finishing well across Meslier and watching Fred wrap up the game with a tapped home finish from inside the six-yard box, United’s performance on Saturday lunchtime was just the statement that they would have been wanting to lay down.
Opening up the 2021/22 campaign priced at 8/1 with Unibet to lift their first Premier League title since 2013, Solskjaer’s side will be next seen when they make the trip to St. Mary’s in eight days time.
Manchester United: De Gea (7), Wan-Bissaka (7), Maguire (7), Lindelof (7), Shaw (7), Fred (7.5), McTominay (8), Pogba (9), Fernandes (10), James (6.5), Greenwood (8),
Subs: Sancho (7), Martial (6), Matic (6)
Leeds: Meslier (5), Ayling (7), Struijk (4.5), Cooper (4.5), Dallas (5), Harrison (4), Klich (4), Kock (4), Raphinha (4), Rodrigo (4.5), Bamford (3)
Subs: Firpo (3), Roberts (4), Costa (3.5)
Goals: Manchester United: Fernandes 30′, 54, 60′, Greenwood 52′, Fred 68′- Leeds: Ayling 48′
Yellow Cards: Manchester United: Shaw – Leeds: Raphinha, Cooper
Red Cards: N/A
Referee: Paul Tierney
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!