Talking points from Old Trafford

Wednesday 08 February 2023 22:00

Manchester United drew 2-2 with Leeds United at Old Trafford in the Premier League, as second-half goals from Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho ensured a share of the spoils.

Having fallen behind inside the first minute, the first half was played with a stop-start tempo as its main theme, as the visitors were forced into two early substitutions that halted the game's early tempo.

Raphael Varane then put through his own net with the second 45 minutes in its relatively infancy to double the Whites' lead, before a spirited United comeback ensured our unbeaten home record of late continues to see another day.

Goals from both Rashford and Sancho in a blistering eight-minute period sent a shockwave through the Leeds side, with Erik ten Hag's men unable to find a late winner, despite our pressure and several near-misses.

Following an entertaining battle with our Yorkshire rivals, here are the main talking points from a thrilling 90 minutes of action...

Why Wan-Bissaka is absent


The boss is asked why the right-back is not in the matchday squad on Wednesday night.


Making his first start for the side since our 3-0 win over Charlton in the Carabao Cup last month, Diogo Dalot made his return to United's starting XI. The 23-year-old had his work cut out against the ever-threatening Wilfried Gnonto, but bar the teenager's early opener at Old Trafford, Diogo helped keep him under close guard. Cutting inside to link up play, as we have become accustomed to seeing under Ten Hag this season, the Reds will be bolstered by the Portugal international's return, with our heavy February scheduling giving the defender plenty of chances to get back up to speed rather quickly. And, of course, he got the assist for Rashford's header.


With Ten Hag opting to go with the duo of both Fred and Marcel Sabitzer from the off, our new no.15 mixed holding and attacking with the Brazilian, testing the resolve of Leeds goalkeeper Illan Meslier on a couple of occasions. Fred's defensive play allowed his Austrian team-mate to advance up the pitch, as he helped to assist Bruno Fernades in neat little pockets of space in and around the Leeds area. Although it may take time for the duo to become closely acquainted - with Casemiro, Christian Eriksen and Scott McTominay all missing at present - there were positive signs throughout the 90 minutes and much for the boss to ponder on, with our squad depth set to be tested to its max in the weeks to come.


Making his first appearance in the Premier League, aged 21, it was a proud occasion for winger Facundo Pellistri, whom Ten Hag opted to keep at the club as opposed to letting the Uruguayan leave on loan in January. Operating on the right-hand side, the youngster was directly involved in our first goal of the evening, cleverly teeing up Dalot who crossed for Rashford, just two minutes after being introduced into the fray. A player who is clearly very high in the thinking of our Dutch boss will hope to further impressive as the season progresses, with lots to be enthuse about given his brief cameo.


Netting his 20th goal of the season in all competitions, Marcus Rashford continues to go from strength to strength, as his hot streak in front of goal is showing no sign of letting up. Our no.10 became the first United player to score in six consecutive appearances at Old Trafford in the Premier League since Wayne Rooney in April 2012. It's quite the feat as Marcus chases down his tally of 22 goals in the 2019/20 season - his best to date in front of goal - with hopefully many more goals in M16 to come for the England international this season.
Marcus Rashford heads back towards the centre circle after netting his 20th goal of the season for United.

Greeted warmly once more upon his introduction as a substitute, Jadon Sancho marked his recent return to first-team action with a stunning strike that left almost everyone inside Old Trafford grinning from ear to ear. Picking up a loose ball that fell kindly to him inside the penalty area, Jadon's coolness shone through as he took just one touch to set himself, before curling a right-footed effort beyond Meslier to draw the game level at 2-2. Mobbed by his team-mates both on the pitch and on the sidelines, it was a joyous moment that further shows the togetherness running through the Reds' camp. 


With the first of our back-to-back clashes with the Yorkshiremen ending level, the Reds will be keen to get back to winning ways upon our visit to Elland Road this weekend. Following the recent pattern of high-scoring encounters, supporters will hope Sunday's clash will bring the same measure of excitement, with our last visit ending 4-2 back in February 2022. Our valiant support will no doubt be out in force in West Yorkshire, with another electric atmosphere expected.