Manchester United inflicted a crushing 5-0 defeat on RB Leipzig in their Champions League group stage encounter at Old Trafford. Marcus Rashford’s first senior hatrick was accompanied by Mason Greenwood’s fine first-half finish and an Anthony Martial penalty.
The first half began with both sides on an even footing. No real action ensued until the 20th minute, when Greenwood tucked away Paul Pogba’s precise through ball in fine fashion.
Manchester United doubled their lead through second-half substitute Rashford in the 74th minute. The forward latched onto Bruno Fernandes’ excellent pass before confidently finishing a one-on-one opportunity.
Rashford then bagged his second and Manchester United’s third just four minutes later, lashing another unerring finish into the far corner. He then almost completed a quick-fire hat-trick but for a crucial block by a Leipzig defender.
He then had a chance to bag the hat-trick soon after as Manchester United were awarded a penalty, with Marcel Sabitzer scything down Martial in the box. However, Rashford unselfishly allowed Martial to take the spot-kick he won, with the Frenchman duly obliging.
Martial then turned provider for Rashford to finally notch his third and Manchester United’s fifth in injury time. The Frenchman drifted past a few Leipzig defenders before laying the ball off to his fellow striker, who took a touch to settle himself before rifling a powerful shot into the far corner.
The final whistle came as a blessing for Leipzig, who went from being well in the match to being completely blown away seemingly in the blink of an eye.
The emphatic result moves Manchester United to the top of Group H ahead of a double-header against Istanbul Basaksehir. Meanwhile, Leipzig will renew last season’s semi-final rivalry with PSG in their next two Champions League encounters.
On that note, here are the hits and flops from the game that saw Manchester United emphatically claim top spot in Group H of the 2020-21 Champions League.
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#1 Hit: Marcus Rashford (Manchester United)
In his playing days, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was no stranger to making an impact off the bench. Therefore, Rashford’s performance would have been especially pleasing for the Manchester United manager.
Brought on in place of Greenwood with just under half an hour left to play, Rashford bagged a clinical hat-trick with three extremely well-taken finishes. He became only the second player (after his manager) to score a treble for United as a substitute.
The English striker, who has earned massive plaudits for his work off the field, was simply unplayable in this short cameo. He tore the usually-well-organised Leipzig defence to shreds and looked likely to score virtually every time he got the ball.
What makes Rashford’s display even more impressive is the fact that he could have bagged more goals. He was denied by an important block at 3-0, before allowing Martial to take on penalty duties rather than trying to complete his hat-trick.
#2 Flop: Yussuf Poulsen (RB Leipzig)
The departure of Timo Werner in the summer meant that a greater share of goal-scoring responsibilities fell on the shoulders of Yussuf Poulsen ahead of the 2020-21 season.
As such, the Danish international was expected to provide the goals for Leipzig against a United side whose defensive record had been fairly suspect going into this fixture.
Unfortunately for Poulsen and Leipzig, United turned in a strong defensive display that not only left the striker feeding off scraps, but also had him embroiled in a tough physical battle against Harry Maguire and Nemanja Matic.
Maguire’s close attention meant that Poulsen was effectively marked out of the game all night, having to drop extremely deep to get a touch of the ball.
A powerful shot from Luke Shaw hitting him in the head in the first half only compounded Poulsen’s misery. He was prevented from making any sort of contribution throughout the match by United’s defenders.
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