Middlesbrough 1-3 Manchester United: Agnew era starts with defeat to rigorous Red Devils

Goals from Marouane Fellaini, Jesse Lingard and Antonio Valencia gave Manchester United a comfortable 3-1 win over a struggling Middlesbrough.

Middlesbrough 1-3 Manchester United: Agnew era starts with defeat to rigorous Red Devils
Above: Manchester United celebrating Marouane Fellaini's goal in the 3-1 win over Middlesbrough | Photo: Getty Images/Robbie Jay Barratt - AMA
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SCORE: 0-1, MIN. 30, FELLAINI 0-2, MIN. 61, LINGARD 1-2, MIN. 77, GESTEDE 1-3, MIN. 90+3, VALENCIA

A new era at Middlesbrough was met with similar results, as goals from Marouane Fellaini, Jesse Lingard and Antonio Valencia saw Steve Agnew's fist game in charge end in a 3-1 defeat to Manchester United.

It was even start from both sides, with Marcus Rashford and Gastón Ramírez coming close inside the opening 15 minutes of the first period. Jose Mourinho’s side began to come into the game as the half went on with good chances for Rashford and Valencia, but it was Fellaini who drew first blood to see them ahead at the break.

United carried on their dominance into the opening exchanges of the second period, which were eventually rewarded  as Lingard turned home a second just after the hour mark. Rudey Gestde made the closing period of the match interesting as he managed to get one back late on, but it wasn't enough as Valencia rounded it up late on to see Mourinho's side leave the North East with all three points.

Starting off well

Anticipation was high for Agnew’s first game in charge after the sacking of Aitor Karanka, and things looked positive early on with Martin De Roon’s half chance but it was United who had the first opportunity on target.

Rashford had been brought in with the absence of Zlatan Ibrahimović, the injury of Wayne Rooney and the lack of fitness of substitute Anthony Martial. But the youngster showed what he is capable of when he was on the end of a cute ball from Jesse Lingard, Rashford beat Bernardo for pace and only Víctor Valdés to beat but the former United man was off his line to produce a decent stop.

Boro seemed to regain some fight that they had lost under Mourinho’s former assistant in the opening periods, and they came very close to the opening goal 12 minutes in.

Grant Leadbitter had done well to hold the ball up on the wing before seeing it off to Ramírez , the Uruguayan did well to cut inside and hit a ferocious curling effort which forced David De Gea to palm it away from danger.


Had been coming

Valdés' short stay at Old Trafford was certainly not one to remember for the Spaniard, but he showed why he was considered one of the best keepers on world in the 22nd minute.

Ashley Young did well to send Mata on his way who managed to find Rashford with a short cross to the near post, the youngster looked to stab it home but Valdés did well to block with his legs. It only went as far as Valencia at the opposite post, the full-back to sneak it in at the near post but Valdés was quickly across to block once again.

As the half went on United began to look more and more dangerous in possession, and it wasn’t long until the inevitable happened as United took the lead on the half hour mark.

It was well worked as Young played in down the left-hand side before curling an excellent ball towards the back post, Fellaini did well to peel away from his supposed marker and it was simple enough for the Belgian to nod home.

Causing some danger

United picked up where they left the first period off, as they continued to dominate both possession and time on the ball, but an error of judgment almost cost them the lead in the opening proceedings of the second period.

Phil Jones had looked solid throughout the match but a mistime of judgment saw Boro break, it made it out wide to another former Red Devil Fabio who produced an excellent cross but proved just too high for loanee striker Alvaro Negredo.


Pacy breakaway

The pace of Rashford and Lingard had been a strain on the Boro defence throughout the contest, but it came with devastating effect just after the hour mark with Lingard adding the second.

United had come under some pressure in early minutes of the second period but they broke quickly through Lingard, the youngster was allowed to continue to plow his way towards the area. Lingard had both Rashford and Mata but decided to go for it himself from just outside the area, it was a great effort which curled into the top corner giving Valdés no chance.

Despite doubling their lead Boro didn’t see a drop in spirits, and they continued to prove a danger to De Gea’s goal. Ramírez had one final contribution in the 66th minute when played a floated ball into the box, it managed to find the head of Negredo but he could only glance it wide of the mark.

Making things interesting

​After Lingard's excellent effort it looked plain sailing for Mourinho's side, but they were made to fight for their three points as Boro managed to get back what a deserving goal.

It was poor from a United defensive stance as a attempted hack away went into the air, with Eric Bailly failing to win the header on  its come down to earth. It landed at the feet of Chris Smalling who had a swing but to no avail, that mistake gifted it to Gestede who had the simple task of slotting past De Gea to make the final minutes on Teesside very entertaining to watch.


Finishing it off

Boro continued to push for a potential equaliser going into extra-time, but United made sure of the result in the second minute of four in horrible circumstances for Valdés.

Valencia broke forward as looked to get some breathing space for his side after some heavy Boro pressure, but the ball eventually ended up been played back to the Spaniard. However he looks hesitant as Valencia continues his run forward, and he is there to pounce on Valdés' undeserved slip and tap home with ease.