Manchester United ran out emphatic winners over bitter rivals Leeds United as a spectator-less Old Trafford witnessed a 6-2 mauling.
Scott McTominay’s quick fire double kickstarted the game for the hosts as Bruno Fernandes and Victor Lindelof put United four up before Liam Cooper pulled one back before half time.
Daniel James and a Fernandes penalty extended the lead before Stuart Dallas found a spectacular consolation.
Story of the game
The game started in style with McTominay opening the scoring after just over a minute. The host’s high press came into instant effect as Fernandes retrieved the ball on the halfway line before travelling 20 yards completely unopposed. He then laid the ball sideways to McTominay in acres of space 25 yards from goal. His first time effort with the outside of his right foot curled beautifully away from Illan Meslier into the bottom right corner.
United doubled their lead just a minute later as Anthony Martial picked out the onrushing McTominay in the middle of the Leeds box. The Scotsman took one touch before sliding a left footed finish past Meslier to double his, and United’s, tally inside three minutes. McTominay’s quick fire double is the quickest brace in Premier League history, taking just over 180 seconds after kick-off.
United added a third before the 20-minute mark as James started a now typical flowing move from the hosts. Fast, flowing one touch football helped United race up the pitch as Fred picked out Martial in the box. He then laid the ball back to Fernandes who made no mistakes, firing the ball first time into the far-left corner.
United’s fourth was perhaps the easiest of the lot as Martial flicked on Luke Shaw’s corner at the near post into the path of Lindelof who had comfortably lost his marker. The Swede calmly volleyed the ball home from around eight yards out to compile Leeds’ misery.
The visitors did pull one back before half time as Cooper rose highest to meet Raphinha’s corner to guide his header into the bottom right corner, despite David De Gea’s best efforts to parry it round the post.
The second half started with the same intensity as the first with a big chance falling to Raphinha. Rodrigo picked out the Brazilian winger with a searching ball that just evaded Aaron Wan-Bissaka. His first-time effort was well hit but straight at De Gea, who must’ve been relieved to see the ball trickle wide following a nick off the post.
The tempo of the game never looked like faltering with both teams doing all they could to grab what looked to be a crucial goal. The counterattack looked like the preferred option for both teams leaving the game wide open through the middle, meaning chances were flowing thick and fast at both ends.
However, it was United who found the all-important goal with just 25 minutes to go. Yet another counterattack was launched as Wan-Bissaka picked out McTominay on the halfway line as the Scot rode several challenges before picking out James on the edge of the area. He took one touch to spin his marker before sliding a left-footed effort between the legs of Meslier.
No sooner was it five than United found the sixth. This time a more progressive build up lead to Rashford and Martial playing the ball between them inside the box before the latter was brought down for a penalty. With the ball on the spot there was only ever going to be one outcome as Fernandes coolly slid the ball into the bottom corner for his second and United’s sixth.
However, the scoring was yet to finish. Just minutes later Leeds worked the ball out to Dallas about 25 yards from goal. He took one touch to get it out of his feet before curling a sumptuous effort into the top right hand corner past the outstretched hand of De Gea for what was the pick of a very special bunch of goals at Old Trafford.
From that point the game became more and more open with United pushing hardest for that elusive seven goals. Martial, Edinson Cavani, James and Fred all forced fine saves from the Leeds ‘keeper as the game descended into a state glorious, free flowing, attacking chaos.
Clear cut chances were being created at a rate of two per minute as the clock dwindled towards the 90-minute mark. A pinnacle of entertainment which so dearly missed the 75,000 spectators it deserved.
What does this result mean for the two sides?
The victory puts United third in the table with a game in hand over the sides above, while Leeds sit 14th, three points above a struggling Arsenal side.
Next up for United, Leicester City at the King Power on Boxing Day, while Leeds welcome Burnley to Elland Road on Sunday.