Huddersfield Town ended their six-match winless run in the Premier League with a spirited performance at the John Smith's Stadium, as they downed José Mourinho's Manchester United on a blustery day in West Yorkshire.
Aaron Mooy opened the scoring in the 28th minute, leading to mass jubilation amongst the 25,000 passionate blue and white supporters inside the ground, who were sent into a further frenzy when step-in striker Laurent Depoitre doubled the home side's lead minutes later to top off a hectic period, and ultimately win the game.
The Reds had conceded just twice in their eight opening league fixtures before the chaotic five minutes doubled that tally in uncharacteristic fashion against a team really struggling to find the net in the top flight.
The victory lifts David Wagner's newly promoted outfit back into the top half of the table, while United remain in second for the time being, however, now trail Pep Guardiola's Manchester City by five points after the Citizen's comfortable 3-0 home win against Burnley.
Wagner’s high-pressure style pays off
Manchester United tried to dominate possession, like they so often do, right from the starting whistle – the hosts had other ideas, though, which set up a balanced start to proceedings. The first sign of United danger came on seven minutes as Mathias Jørgensen was drawn out of position, helping Nemanja Matić to loft a through ball over the top for Romelu Lukaku, whose low effort was aimed straight at Jonas Lössl.
There was trouble involving Anthony Martial and Huddersfield Town captain Tommy Smith a few minutes later. The right-back flew in high on the sideline, to which the young Frenchman slightly retaliated towards, causing a touch of heads off the ball and subsequently both players receiving early bookings. Smith’s defensive partner, Christopher Schindler, joined him in the book shortly afterwards for a late lunge on Jesse Lingard in a dangerous position on the left.
The resulting free-kick was the first of many frustrating crosses by Ashley Young on the day, as the ball sailed behind and beyond his targets at the back post. Town got their first taste of an attack on 13 minutes when Tom Ince aimed a cross from the left wing at Elias Kachunga, but last season’s top scorer floated his header into the hands of David De Gea. The home supporters continued to roar on the Terriers, and exploded in hope of a 16th minute sending off when Martial clipped Danny Williams in a silly position to give away a free-kick on the right-hand side of the final third.
It was United’s turn to attack at the 20-minute mark as Ashley Young exquisitely turned Kachunga on the left before reaching the by-line and lofting, what should’ve made him the assistant of the opener, over the top of an unmarked, and clearly frustrated, Lukaku in the middle. Young did find the big Belgian minutes later though, and the unbalanced no. 9 fired a scissor kick way wide under pressure from Jørgensen on the penalty spot.
Jones injury hurts United
Phil Jones’ afternoon was cut short in minute 23 because of what seemed like a tweaked hamstring, which cued the arrival of inexperienced Swede Victor Lindelöf in the heart of José Mourinho’s defence. After pinpointing his managerial counterparts prior to the game for “crying” over injuries, it was always going to be interesting to hear what he had to say on the matter in his post-match press conference.
The electric atmosphere at the John Smith’s Stadium continued without fail, but was raised to another level when midfield maestro Aaron Mooy gave Huddersfield the lead after being recalled to the starting XI by David Wagner. The 27-year-old’s pressure on Juan Mata at the half-way line was enough to force the Spaniard into losing the ball easily, however, a nervous, and undecided, Lindelöf could’ve swept up the ball if fully committed. Mooy rushed forward and played Tom Ince through on goal and the tricky winger managed to get a lacklustre shot away right at De Gea, but Mooy was there to cannon the rebound into the net to gain advantage for the Terriers.
If fans couldn’t quite believe a lead against Manchester United after scoring just once in their last six league matches, Laurent Depoitre sent the home faithful to dreamland by doubling the West Yorkshire club’s lead just six minutes later. Victor Lindelöf’s tough outing became even tougher, woefully failing to deal with a dinked ball from the midfield which allowed the ex-Porto striker to round David De Gea and calmly slot away.
The visitor’s first-half troubles looked to be down to Nemanja Matić’s epic struggle to dictate the game like he so often does. An unbelievable first 45 was ended on a sour note for Huddersfield though, as Elias Kachunga had to make way for Rajiv van La Parra through was looked like a back problem.
Rashford header sets up nervy end
There was no real flow to the second period after José Mourinho made two changes at the break – Marcus Rashford for Anthony Martial and Henrikh Mkhitaryan for Juan Mata. The home crowd continued to make noise to cheer on their defensive unit as waves of Manchester United attacks commenced.
Ashley Young charged forward 10 minutes into the second-half and had much more time on the ball than he thought 25 yards out from goal, as his effort whizzed past Lössl’s left post – leading to a chorus of sarcastic cheers. Marcus Rashford found an opening on the left flank after beating Tommy Smith but fluffed his lines and hit his weak effort wide as the away side attempted to bump into second gear.
After replacing Kachunga in the latter stages of the first-half, Rajiv van La Parra enjoyed a superb game on the right wing and repeatedly had the beating of Ashley Young, which eventually resulted in the Man United man receiving a booking for his troubles.
Huddersfield understandably sat back much more as time was running out and tried to catch the progressively-desperate visitors on the counter-attack, and reintroduced record signing Steve Mounié with 20 minutes left on the clock.
It’s unlikely that United’s livelier attitude in the second-half came after Marcus Rashford entered the field of play, and the teenager nearly provided Romelu Lukaku with an assist on 72 minutes. Rashford played a pass through Lukaku’s way, who was being somewhat man-handled by Christopher Schindler, but the striker couldn’t get a hold of the ball and Lössl gracefully ended the danger.
Pressure continued to build on Town and their Danish goalkeeper produced a fine reflex save the prevent Ander Herrera heading his side back into the game in the 76th minute, however, couldn’t keep out Marcus Rashford’s header minutes later. Romelu Lukaku found the unchallenged winger with a delightful cross from the corner flag, and made the final 10 minutes incredibly gritty for Wagner’s men.
Despite a reasonable four minutes of added time, no more real chances were produced and Huddersfield held on to end Manchester United undefeated start to the season. With 78% possession, it was crazy how the Reds managed just three shots on target throughout the whole game and will look to bounce back at the Liberty Stadium on Tuesday – as they face Swansea City in the Carabao Cup. Meanwhile, Huddersfield will have a week of hard work ahead of them, with a trip to Anfield to look forward to next weekend after what was one of the greatest victories in the club’s history.