Alexis stars in 2-0 win over Huddersfield Town
Manchester United returned to winning ways with a much improved performance, after their midweek dip against Tottenham Hotspur, and it could easily have been a broader margin than the 2-0 result achieved with goals from Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez, the Chilean's first for the club.
This was the first League meeting at Old Trafford between United and the West Yorkshire side since Saturday 11 March 1972 but, of course, the corresponding fixture at the John Smith's Stadium ended in a shock 2-1 defeat.
Showing several changes, most notably Scott McTominay in for Paul Pogba, from Wednesday, United started the game at a brisk pace, while Huddersfield were clearly in a mood to take no prisoners.
The visitors used every tool in the box to try to prevent the ball from finding the net and were extremely fortunate not to concede a penalty when McTominay was flattened by Terence Kongolo's wild challenge inside the box. There was also a shout for a spot-kick when Alexis was felled on his home debut but, again, referee Stuart Attwell was unconvinced.
The Reds had certainly had their chances during the opening half, Jesse Lingard and Chris Smalling going close, but as half-time was reached, the scoresheet remained blank.
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Chances came and went but, in the 55th minute, Huddersfield’s defence was finally breached. Juan Mata’s educated left foot provided the cross from the left wing, after more dogged work by Alexis, and Lukaku made no mistake in sweeping home a clinical left-footed finish.
It was no more than United deserved for all our dominance and, 13 minutes later, the lead was doubled when referee Attwell did point to the spot. Alexis was tripped by Town’s Michael Hefele and the Stretford End roared its approval when the new boy picked the ball up and took on the responsibility. The no.7's penalty was parried by keeper Jonas Lossi, but the Chilean followed up to claim his first goal in a United shirt.
This was a much better performance from Jose Mourinho’s lads but there were no further goals, despite several breaks involving substitutes Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford, and it was certainly given the seal of approval by the majority of the 74,742 crowd inside Old Trafford.
United: De Gea; Valencia, Smalling, Rojo, Shaw; McTominay, Matic; Mata (Rashford 71), Lingard (Pogba 65), Sanchez; Lukaku (Martial 76).
Substitutes not used: Romero, Lindelof, Young, Carrick.
Booked: Mata, Alexis
Huddersfield: Lossl; Smith, Zanka, Schindler (Hefele 59), Kongolo; Hogg, Quaner, Hadergjonaj, Billing (Mooy 33), Van La Parra (Ince 69); Depoitre.
Substitutes not used: Coleman, Malone, Pritchard, Mounie.
Booked: Billing, Smith, Hefele, Hogg.
WHAT DID MOURINHO SAY?
“I think we had around 80 per cent of ball possession in the first half but no goal. In the second half we had a little bit more intensity, we recovered the ball higher and faster, and then first goal came. Even at 1-0, I felt the game was over because we were so much in control.It was a good finish from Lukaku and great pressure by Matic, a good recovery of the ball, a good cross and then, of course, good movement and a good finish.
“For the second goal, it almost broke my heart when Alexis missed the penalty, but the important thing is that he scored the goal and it really killed the game.”
United will hold a special service to mark the 60th anniversary of the Munich Air Disaster on Tuesday. Our next action is in the Premier League at Newcastle United on Sunday, with a 14:15 GMT kick-off.