Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood fire Manchester United to statement Champions League win

Substitute Marcus Rashford scored a brilliant hat-trick and won a penalty for Anthony Martial to score as Manchester United’s young forwards hit RB Leipzig with a string of second half sucker-punches to win 5-0 at Old Trafford.

Mason Greenwood earned United a halftime lead in what was shaping up to be a tough tussle with the Bundesliga leaders, at least until Rashford entered the fray. In tandem with fellow substitute Bruno Fernandes they rifled through a tiring Leipzig side who became ever more error-prone as the goals flew in. 

Catch up with the key talking points from the game below

Rashford can do no wrong

Rashford’s campaign to support vulnerable children with free meals during the holidays has rightly won him acclaim across the political spectrum in the United Kingdom and the admiration of the entire football community, regardless of their allegiance.

At 22 years old, he is using his voice in the right way but his half-hour cameo here was a reminder of how he won that voice in the first place. When Rashford sensed weaknesses in the Leipzig defense, he attacked them remorselessly, an intoxicating blend of pace and composure.

Quick feet and power hitting were too much for Leipzig to take after a gruelling hour and the match ball is the very least Rashford deserves for his recent contributions to British society.

Greenwood gets the basics very right

For a sport about kicking a sphere very little of our analysis of football revolves around, well, how good a player is at making the ball do what they want. It is of course the most basic of skills but to see someone manipulate a ball with the precision Mason Greenwood does still feels like a jolt to the system.

Whatever the opportunity, on whichever foot, the 19-year-old seems to apply the perfect touch. Take United’s opener. Having shrewdly judged his run so as to meet Paul Pogba’s through ball, Greenwood might have been tempted to take a touch with his left to open up an angle for a shot with his right. The time that would have taken would probably have given Dayot Upamecano to get back.

He could have smashed the ball at goal but it would be hard to find the angle to beat Peter Gulacsi at his near post. The other corner represented his best chance but even then he would have to adjust for the ball’s natural curl away from goal. Greenwood did so perfectly without so much as a look at goal.

The most remarkable thing? We have almost come to expect this from Greenwood, who is already developing quite the reputation in front of goal.

Leipzig’s focal point

It was inevitable that Julian Nagelsmann would struggle to replace Timo Werner. Strikers of his quality simply aren’t available for RB Leipzig and the Bundesliga leaders start to the season has indicated that they understand that no one player can bear that load.

Instead, they have shared the burden to such an extent that left-back Angelino is their top scorer with four goals. At their best, their lack of a clearly defined No. 1 option made them a many-headed serpent that was all the more difficult for Manchester United to defend.

And yet it was hard to shake the sense that without a true striker their attacks were fizzling out precisely because there was no player they felt compelled to push the pace for, a forward of similar incision to Rashford or Greenwood, who could turn half chances into goals.

Solskjaer’s solution to home troubles

Not since 1972 had Manchester United gone three league games without a win at Old Trafford, continuing a worrying trend that had Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side with just six wins from 13 on home territory.

To address that United played rather more like an away side, ceding possession and territory to Leipzig and challenging their visitors to break down a defensive line that was shielded by both Nemanja Matic and Fred. It is a high-risk strategy when that defense includes Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof and by the hour-mark it had effectively been supplanted by desperate attempts to hold on as RB Leipzig threw more men forward.

Ultimately his side did soak up the pressure for long enough and when Solskjaer has Bruno Fernandes and Rashford to turn the tide it might be shrewd to simply stay in the game and hit their opponents in the dying minutes. Arsenal beware.

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Notable performances

Paul Pogba: RB Leipzig midfielders seemed to bounce off him, particularly in the build-up to Greenwood’s goal. With Fred and Nemanja Matic offering defensive support Pogba was able to focus on doing one or two things. That is invariably when he is at his best even if his United team-mates might have been begging for more off-ball aid in the second half. RATING: 7

Dayot Upamecano: If this was supposed to be his audition for a Manchester United transfer then he won the part, though few should have needed any convincing. His passing, tackling and direct running in possession made for invigorating viewing at least until the final quarter, when he was one of a string of Leipzig players to wilt under the renewed pressure of Fernandes and Rashford. RATING: 7

Marcus Rashford: This should of course read Dr. Marcus Rashford MBE, a player who is as impressive off the pitch as he is on it. Just when the intensity of RB Leipzig’s pressure seemed to be weighing heaviest on United, their No.10 judged his run to perfection before hammering the ball past Gulacsi. RATING: 9

Up next

Manchester United welcome Arsenal to Old Trafford while RB Leipzig also have a challenging game to come in the Bundesliga, travelling to Borussia Monchengladbach. They will then host Paris Saint-Germain in Matchday 3 while Solskjaer’s side host Istanbul Basaksehir, winless and goalless so far in this competition.

You can stream every Champions League match on CBS All Access. Every match will be available on demand shortly after the final whistle. 


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