United 3 Huddersfield 1
Manchester United made it two wins out of two in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's caretaker stewardship with a 3-1 triumph over Huddersfield Town on Boxing Day at Old Trafford.
The Reds' renaissance gained momentum as there was huge expectancy around the stadium ahead of Solskjaer and Mike Phelan's return to the club and, ultimately, the United faithful were more than satisfied with outcome.
Nemanja Matic gave United the lead and Paul Pogba added a couple goals in the second half to seal a win that had the crowd singing the praises of the new boss and his team. Huddersfield played without fear, despite their position at the foot of the table, and probably deserved their late consolation through Mathias Jorgensen, nicknamed Zanka.
Old Trafford returned to something like its old self as the teams emerged from the tunnel to be greeted by a wall of noise. Coming on the back of a convincing 5-1 win over Cardiff City in Wales - United’s best scoring domestic day-out in more than five years – and the fact that one of the club’s great heroes – Solskjaer – followed the players out into the stadium was enough to ignite mild hysteria in the stands.
The banner honouring the Norwegian - 20 LEGEND - still hangs from the second tier of the Sir Alex Ferguson Stand and the welcome he received – from everyone, including the travelling Huddersfield Town fans – was very special, even by Old Trafford’s lofty standards. There was an almost tangible feeling of optimism as the teams readied themselves for the kick-off and the volume was raised a few decibels as Solskjaer’s charges looked to go on the offensive from the outset.
There was a noticeable spring in the step of the United players as they responded positively to the support that was roaring them on. Huddersfield appeared totally unaffected by the hullabaloo and, in the 10th minute, they could easily have thrown some early cold water on the proceedings when defender Terence Kongolo fired over captain David De Gea’s goal when it would have been easier to find the net.
The Reds held the upper hand, though, and, as one attack looked to be gathering pace, Huddersfield’s Elias Kachunga resorted to illegal methods to halt Marcus Rashford’s progress, and was booked for a cynical challenge. The visitors were by no means a distant second best as the game wore on, but with 17 minutes of the opening half remaining, United struck the first major blow of the game. The Reds won a corner in front of the East Stand, which Rashford took. Victor Lindelof was first to the cross and his glancing header ultimately dropped at the feet of Matic, who gleefully swept United into the lead.
Old Trafford erupted in celebration and, almost immediately, the entire list of Ole anthems began to be aired. Diogo Dalot volleyed wide after great work by Rashford and the England striker also had a couple of attempts himself as the hosts dominated. However, Huddersfield went close to finding an equaliser seconds before the half-time break, when Philip Billing hit the side-netting, which sent out a message that all teams can be dangerous and take advantage of brief lapses of concentration.
United attacked the Stretford End as the second half commenced, but it was Huddersfield who made most of the early running and, with a modicum of luck, their raucous followers could have been celebrating the leveller. Our slow start prompted the managerial set-up to shuffle the pack and introduce a couple of substitutes to the contest. Ander Herrera and Ashley Young were sent on to replace Fred and Diogo Dalot.
Town were producing some top-quality football and looking nothing like a team that are currently in the Premier League’s relegation zone, seeming certain to score, in the 61st minute, when Laurent Depoitre sent a great header goal bound. It looked certain to find the net until De Gea took flight to push the ball away for a corner.
There was little to choose between the sides during this spell but, in the 64th minute, Huddersfield’s revival was nipped in the bud when United doubled the lead. It was a move culminating in Juan Mata and Herrera that opened up the Terriers' defence, which ended with Pogba picking his spot before rattling home an unstoppable strike past Jonas Lossi in the visitors' goal.
Solskjaer had done little prowling in the technical area, but he was quick to get to his feet when, in the 78th minute, Pogba put the result beyond doubt with his second goal of the afternoon - whipping the ball past Lossl from Jesse Lingard's assist. Two minutes later, United utilised our final substitute when Academy graduate Angel Gomes took the field in place of Mata. Both players received terrific applause from the supporters.
Huddersfield gained some consolation with a couple of minutes of normal time remaining when Jorgensen finished off a header by Steve Mounie. The game ended with the Stretford End celebrating Solskjaer’s return to the club and a second win for the Reds inside five days. Hence, the bulk of the crowd left for home looking forward to enjoying the remainder of the festive break.
United: De Gea (c); Dalot (Young 53), Lindelof, Jones, Shaw; Fred (Herrera 53), Matic; Mata (Gomes 80), Pogba, Lingard; Rashford.
Subs not used: Romero, Bailly, Fellaini, A. Pereira.
Huddersfield: Lossl; Hadergjonaj, Jorgensen, Schindler, Kongolo, Durm; Kachunga (Lowe 57), Pritchard, Billing, Mbenza (Quaner 63); Depoitre (Mounie 74).
Subs not used: Hamer, Hogg, Bacuna, Stankovic.
Scorers: Matic 28, Pogba 64,78 | Jorgensen 88
Yellow cards: Fred | Kachunga
United entertain Bournemouth at Old Trafford in the Premier League on Saturday, 16:30 GMT kick-off.Reading this in our app? If not, you might miss some exclusive features not found on ManUtd.com. Download the Official App here.