Manchester United returned to winning ways in the Premier League with a 1-0 victory over Brentford at Old Trafford on Wednesday.
Marcus Rashford’s first-half strike was enough to see off the Bees, ending a three-match winless streak for Erik ten Hag’s side in the league since winning the Carabao Cup.
Brentford could not muster much of a response in the second half, United controlling the flow of the game throughout.
Though the scoreline was far from flattering, it sealed a vital three points for United that moves them back ahead of Tottenham and into fourth position.
The hosts dominated possession early on but were unable to test David Raya in the Brentford net, Scott McTominay firing an effort over the top of the crossbar before Antony cut inside onto his left and curled an effort wide.
United’s breakthrough came after 27 minutes, Brentford not clearing their lines effectively from a corner and Antony clipping a ball back into the box where Marcel Sabitzer headed down for Rashford to duly smash home.
Brentford were almost gifted an equaliser shortly after the restart, David de Gea put under pressure by Ivan Toney and the keeper’s clearance bouncing off the back of the England international and just wide of the post.
Ten Hag’s side continued to be on the front foot, though struggling to truly test Raya’s capabilities, but Sabitzer tested his reflexes with a low shot from the edge of the box after Rashford’s lay-off.
Though United were not able to find more effectiveness in front of goal, any threat of a Brentford comeback was unfounded as United held firm to clinch three valuable points.
Man Utd player ratings (4-2-3-1)
GK: David de Gea – 7/10 – Nearly got caught out with poor kicking but made a vital one-v-one save to stop Schade equalising for Brentford.
RB: Diogo Dalot – 7/10 – Showed a willingness to make surging runs to stretch Brentford.
CB: Raphael Varane – 6/10 – Solid without ever truly being tested.
CB: Lisandro Martinez – 7/10 – Made his presence known with a crunching challenge on Toney.
LB: Luke Shaw – 6/10 – Celebrating a new long-term contract on his 250th appearance for the club, but his night ended in 36 minutes due to injury.
CM: Scott McTominay – 8/10 – Tasked with the Casemiro role. Had an early chance to score and also defended well. Can be pleased with his performance.
CM: Marcel Sabitzer – 7/10 – Contributed to attacks and it was a really smart header to set up Rashford’s first half goal.
RM: Antony – 7/10 – Looked up for the challenge and was a major source of danger, although his shooting radar was slightly askew.
AM: Bruno Fernandes (c) – 8/10 – Displayed an outstanding range of passing.
LM: Jadon Sancho – 6/10 – Worked hard and the more minutes he gets in his legs the better.
ST: Marcus Rashford – 9/10 – Scored a clinical goal to break the deadlock and was at the heart of everything. Even tracked back to help defend too.
SUB: Tyrell Malacia (37′ for Shaw) – 7/10
SUB: Fred (71′ for Sabitzer) – 6/10
SUB: Anthony Martial (71′ for Sancho) – 4/10
SUB: Victor Lindelof (86′ for Antony) – N/A
Erik ten Hag – 7/10 – Will have been pleased with the tempo and intensity of the performance. Made intelligent changes and wasn’t scared to try and protect the lead when Lindelof went on.
Brentford player ratings (5-3-2)
GK: David Raya – 7/10 – Not massively tested given that most United efforts were off target, but saved well from Rashford in the first half to keep Brentford in with a chance.
RB: Mads Roerslev – 6/10 – Getting forward was tough but he kept Sancho largely under wraps.
CB: Pontus Jansson (c) – 6/10 – Cleared the danger numerous times.
CB: Ethan Pinnock – 7/10 – Helped Brentford try and build from the back and a big source of frustration for the hosts.
CB: Ben Mee – 7/10 – Always careful in possession and won his duels.
LB: Rico Henry – 7/10 – Put in a huge shift down the left side.
CM: Mikkel Damsgaard – 4/10 – Struggled to make anything happen.
CM: Christian Norgaard – 5/10 – No real foothold in the game.
CM: Mathias Jensen – 5/10 – Another who couldn’t really get into it.
ST: Bryan Mbeumo – 4/10 – Tried to press in the first half but minimal impact overall.
ST: Ivan Toney – 4/10 – Missed the target with a difficult header near the end of the first half but was otherwise way too isolated and lacking service.
SUB: Shandon Baptiste (62′ for Jensen) – 6/10
SUB: Josh Dasilva (62′ for Mbeumo) – 6/10
SUB: Kevin Schade (62′ for Damsgaard) – 7/10
SUB: Yoane Wissa (75′ for Norgaard) – 6/10
SUB: Aaron Hickey (75′ for Roerslev) – 6/10
Thomas Frank – 7/10 – Set up his team to be compact and had to come up with new ideas in the second half with so few opportunities created. Changed the system in the final stages and it did work to make his side more competitive in the final quarter.
Player of the match – Brentford (Man Utd – the Bees really were that bad)
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