Match Report: Manchester United 3-1 Huddersfield

by Matt Murray
27th Dec 2018

Manchester United continued their resurgence under new interim boss Ole Gunnar Solskjær with a comfortable 3-1 Boxing Day victory over the league's bottom side Huddersfield at Old Trafford, following the 5-1 thrashing of Cardiff City just four days earlier.

After Huddersfield had spurned the first big chance of the game, it was Nemanja Matic who put the hosts ahead on 28 minutes with a tap-in. Victor Lindelof's header (from Marcus Rashford's corner) was saved by goalkeeper Jonas Lossl, however the rebound fell perfectly for the big Serbian giving him his third league goal for The Reds, and his first of the season.

Diogo Dalot went close soon after with a volley from Rashford's brilliant delivery. Great work from the England forward down the left-hand side, though the young full-back was clearly disappointed not to register his first goal for the club following his £19 million arrival from F.C. Porto in the summer.

David de Gea made a superb save to deny Huddersfield striker Laurent Depoitre from a corner, before another excellent move from United ended with Paul Pogba doubling his side's advantage with a cool finish, with Marcus Rashford, Juan Mata and Ander Herrera all playing their part in what was a brilliant team goal, 64 minutes into the game.

Just under a quarter of an hour later and it was three; another brilliant effort from Man of the Match Paul Pogba, this time from outside the penalty area. The big Frenchman appears to be back to his best after enduring a difficult first half of the season under former boss Jose Mourinho, whose relationship broke down irreparably leaving Pogba out of favour.

Huddersfield did pull one back with a consolation goal from Mathias Jorgensen several minutes from full-time, though the result never really seemed in doubt. United controlled the match with 65% of the possession and 16 attempts on goal (10 on target).

The feel-good factor certainly appears to be back at Old Trafford under Solskjær, with eight goals in his first two games at the helm and a clear improvement in playing style. There’s a real focus on playing attacking football and allowing the team to play with more freedom – a far-cry from the boring, pragmatic football we saw under Mourinho. Solskjær said ‘This club is built on entertainment and excitement.’

There has also been an obvious improvement in the form of several players, most notably midfielders Pogba and Matic, both of whom have struggled for much of the season prior to Solskjær's arrival at the club. Solskjaer is also only the fifth United manager to win both of his first two league matches in charge, after TJ Wallworth, Matt Busby, Dave Sexton and Jose Mourinho. 

United remain in sixth position, but now only six points behind Arsenal in fifth after the Gunners' draw at Brighton and eight points behind fourth-placed Chelsea. Hope for fans that United can still secure a Top 4 finish this season? It seemed almost unthinkable just a few weeks ago, but now...

Solskjaer described his first home game in charge of the club as ‘surreal’ and was quick to praise the attitude of his players, as well as hailing United fans as ‘the best in the world’ after they sang his name for virtually the entire 90 minutes.

United will hope to continue their recent revival as they welcome Bournemouth to Old Trafford on Sunday and make it three wins out of three for the new boss. Solskjaer's side will also be boosted by the returns of three attacking players: Alexis Sanchez, Anthony Martial and Romelu Lukaku, who were all unavailable for selection on Boxing Day, due to injury and personal reasons. 

Whether or not Solskjaer will be given the job beyond this current season remains to be seen, with Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino clear frontrunner to be United's next permanent manager and rumoured to be keen on the move too. But Solskjaer has certainly done his managerial reputation no harm at all in his first two games in charge; here's hoping The Reds can end 2018 on a high against Bournemouth on Sunday.

Player Ratings:

Manchester United: De Gea (8), Shaw (7), Lindelof (7), Jones (7), Dalot (7), Matic (8), Fred (5), Pogba (8), Lingard (6), Rashford (7), Mata (6). Subs: Herrera (7), Gomes (6), Young (6).

Huddersfield: Lossl (7), Hadergjonaj (6), Zanka (6), Schindler (5), Kongolo (6), Mbenza (5), Durm (5), Billing (5), Kachunga (6), Pritchard (7), Depoitre (6).?Subs: Quaner (6), Mounie (6), Lowe (6). 

Man of the Match: Paul Pogba.

Attendance: 74,523.

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