Marcus Rashford scored twice to spare Dean Henderson’s blushes as Manchester United yet again came from behind to beat beleaguered Sheffield United 3-2 and go sixth in the Premier League.
A terrible mistake from goalkeeper Henderson, replacing David de Gea against his former club, put an early opening goal on a plate for David McGoldrick at Bramall Lane on Thursday.
Yet it was deja vu for the Red Devils as they produced another fightback, Rashford equalising and Anthony Martial scoring his first top-flight goal of the season to put them in front at half-time.
The visitors were a huge threat on the break as they bossed the second half and Rashford took his tally for the season to 12 as they made it 10 consecutive Premier League away wins, despite McGoldrick’s late second ensuring a nervy ending.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men have had to come from behind to win all six top-flight matches away from home, while the Blades remain rooted to the bottom of the table with just one point from 13 games.
10 – Manchester United are the first side ever to score 2+ goals in 10 consecutive away games in the Premier League; indeed, they are the first club to do so in the English top-flight since Tottenham in October 1960. Clinical. pic.twitter.com/3bZlwx1Lxo
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 17, 2020
Henderson gifted the Blades the lead just five minutes in when he was caught dwelling on the ball by Oliver Burke, who set up McGoldrick for a tap-in.
An unmarked John Fleck should have doubled the bottom side’s lead when he fired wide from just inside the penalty area after Phil Jagielka replaced the injured Sander Berge.
The ruthless Red Devils turned it around with two goals in the space of seven minutes, Rashford timing his run to perfection and controlling Victor Lindelof’s ball over the top with a great first touch before clinically rifling home with his right foot.
Paul Pogba then set up France team-mate Martial with a brilliant first-time pass to put United in front at the second attempt 33 minutes in.
Pogba’s brilliant skill and pass started a devastating counter-attack that gave Solskjaer’s side a two-goal cushion six minutes into the second half, Aaron Ramsdale at fault as he allowed Rashford’s shot to go under his body.
Only desperate Blades defending denied Martial a second goal before Lindelof’s header from a corner hit McGoldrick on the head and went in to give the Blades hope, but they could not salvage a point after Henderson produced a brilliant save to deny Lys Mousset in stoppage time.
What does it mean? Red Devils make history on the road – but only just
Victory for the Red Devils sees them become only the fourth side to win 10 top-flight matches in a row on their travels.
They are also the only team ever to score two or more goals in 10 consecutive away games in the Premier League and the first in the top flight since Tottenham in 1960.
It means they are just five points behind leaders Liverpool with a game in hand, but made hard work of preventing the Blades from doubling their points tally. Solskjaer and Chris Wilder exchanged words on the touchline in a nervy finale after Manchester United had looked set to see out a comfortable win.
Rashford ruthless, purring Pogba
Two goals for Rashford will most likely earn the England forward the majority of the headlines and his first was a magnificent finish.
The performance of Pogba, who has come in for so much criticism, will also be a massive plus for Solskjaer.
His vision and technique to set up Martial’s goal and class to set the ball rolling for Rashford’s second showed just what he is capable of. Pogba also gained possession eight times as he performed his defensive work effectively.
Henderson redeems himself
Keeper Henderson was magnificent for the Blades in a loan spell last season but he had a nightmare start on his return to Bramall Lane.
He took far too long to distribute the ball as the visitors tried to play out from the back and was punished.
Henderson showed why he is so highly regarded in the closing stages, though, showing great reactions to dive to his right and keep out Mousset’s strike.
Key Opta Facts:
– Sheffield United have won fewer points after their first 13 games of a league season than any other team in English top-flight history (one).
– Manchester United are the fourth side in English top-flight history to record 10 consecutive away league wins, after Spurs (10 between April & October 1960), Chelsea (11 between April & December 2008) and Manchester City (11 between May & December 2017).
– The Red Devils have now scored at least twice in 10 consecutive away league games – the longest such run by a team in the top-flight since Spurs in October 1960 (also 10).
– Having only made one error directly leading to a goal in 36 Premier League appearances for Sheffield United last season, Dean Henderson made his first in just three appearances (two starts) in the competition for Man Utd.
– Marcus Rashford has scored 43 goals under Ole Gunnar Solskjær in all competitions – the most by any Manchester United player under a single manager since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013.
Manchester United face old rivals Leeds United at Elland Road on Sunday, when the Blades are away to Brighton and Hove Albion.
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