Talking Points: United 5 RB Leipzig 0
Manchester United registered back-to-back Champions League wins, on Wednesday, as we enjoyed a superb 5-0 victory over German outfit RB Leipzig.
The star of the show was undoubtedly Marcus Rashford, who bagged his first United hat-trick, along with strikes from Mason Greenwood and Anthony Martial.
On a night with too many talking points for just one article, we’ve picked out seven of the biggest from another memorable European night at Old Trafford…
With all Marcus’s charitable work in the last week, you’d be forgiven for forgetting about the 22-year-old’s on-field contributions. But, against Leipzig, the striker once again showed his quality. Marcus was introduced just after the hour mark and demonstrated his calmness and composure for his first goal, especially after the assistant-referee’s flag was raised in the build-up. However, our no.10 showed the nous and intelligence to carry on and slot the ball home, which after a VAR check, resulted in a goal. As for the next one, it was all power as he smashed his way through the Leipzig defence and blasted the ball into the back of the net. A superb cameo from the forward. Of course, Marcus wasn’t done there, and he netted his third in injury-time, to score his first United hat-trick.
Greenwood was playing in his 59th game for United on Wednesday and he has now remarkably scored in five different competitions. The striker, starting for the first time in Europe’s premier competition, opened the scoring after 21 minutes and, in doing so, became the second-youngest player to net for the Reds in the Champions League, after Wayne Rooney. Mason has now scored six European goals as a teenager - including last season’s Europa League campaign - that’s the joint-most of any Englishman alongside Marcus Rashford.
OLE’S TACTICAL ALTERATION
We weren’t entirely sure what shape United would operate with when the teamsheet was produced ahead of the game, but United lined up in a 4-4-2 diamond system, although it was certainly a fluid formation in and out of possession. Facing Leipzig’s 3-5-2, Ole’s tactical switch meant we crowded the middle and managed to stifle their creative players in the centre of the park. Meanwhile, up front, our duo of Anthony Martial and Greenwood managed to exploit the gaps in the visitors’ three-man defence. We saw that in particular for our first goal of the night, when Paul Pogba drove from midfield and released Greenwood inside the box.
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Donny van de Beek had dominated much of the pre-match chat, with various media outlets discussing the boss’s decision to omit him from the starting XI in the last few games, but Ole selected the Dutchman from the off on Wednesday. Donny mainly operated at the top of the diamond, although he often pushed forward and played in a false-nine position, either side of Greenwood and Martial. Throughout the game, he linked well with the front duo, and regularly slipped the ball into their paths in what was a great European debut for the Reds.
Leipzig have scored in all five of their Bundesliga games this season and, in 2019/20, netted against the likes of Tottenham Hotspur, Atletico Madrid, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. However, the visitors struggled to find a way past United’s well-organised defence on Wednesday. That’s also two clean sheets in a row against sides in this term’s Champions League campaign, after the weekend draw with Chelsea.
MARTIAL OFF THE MARK
Marcus once again again showed his charitable side near the end of the encounter, when on two goals, he gave the ball to Anthony for our penalty. The Frenchman mentioned to us in his pre-match interview that he was yet to score this season, but his excellent spot-kick changed that, and, anyway, Marcus got his third a few minutes later.
HOW THE GROUP LOOKS
After two matches, United sit top of Group H with six points and a goal different of +6. In the earlier Group H clash, Paris Saint-Germain beat Istanbul Basaksehir 2-0 in Turkey, thanks to a double from on-loan Everton man Moise Kean. That means PSG have three points, the same as Leipzig, while Istanbul - who we face next - are yet to get off the mark in the group.