Manchester United vs Leeds United. Premier League.
Report and free match highlights as Man Utd overturn two-goal deficit to salvage a draw against bitter rivals Leeds at Old Trafford; Wilfried Gnonto strikes inside 55 seconds before Raphael Varane's own goal after the break; Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho goals secure point for hosts
Thursday 9 February 2023 06:02, UK
Substitute Jadon Sancho scored on his Premier League return after nearly four months out as Manchester United came from behind to draw 2-2 with managerless Leeds in a thriller at Old Trafford.
Sancho, who came on with United 2-0 down, equalised (70) after linking up with Luke Shaw down the left having seen Marcus Rashford head the hosts level (62) with his 20th goal in all competitions this season.
Leeds, who sacked head coach Jesse Marsch on Monday, opened the scoring after just 55 seconds through Wilfried Gnonto's superb low drilled effort from the edge of the area and struck early in the second as Raphael Varane turned in substitute Crysencio Summerville's low cross (48).
United miss the chance to go level on points with second-placed City, while Leeds push themselves a point clear of the relegation zone but are now winless in eight league games. The teams play again on Sunday at Elland Road, live on Sky Sports.
Man Utd: De Gea (6), Dalot (6), Varane (5), Martinez (8), Shaw (7); Fred (6), Sabitzer (6), Fernandes (7); Rashford (8), Weghorst (5), Garnacho (6).
Subs: Sancho (8), Pellistri (6),
Leeds: Meslier (8); Ayling (8), Koch (6), Wober (7), Struijk (5); Adams (6), McKennie (6); Sinisterra (N/A), Harrison (7), Gnonto (8); Bamford (7).
Subs: Summerville (7), Firpo (6), Aaronson (6), Rutter (6).
Player of the match: Lisandro Martinez.
Leeds took full advantage of the suspended Casemiro's absence inside a minute as Gnonto exposed a hole in United's midfield by playing a one-two with Patrick Bamford before firing into the bottom corner from the edge of the box to give the visitors the dream start.
United looked lost after going behind and could not cope with Leeds' blistering intensity but defensive interventions from Lisandro Martinez kept the deficit to one. Alejandro Garnacho twice came close to levelling, with Leeds defender Max Wober clearing one of the 18-year-old's strikes off the line.
Marcel Sabitzer, who took time to settle into the game on his full United debut, had a few attempts at marking the occasion with a goal from range but was denied by Leeds goalkeeper Illan Meslier after firing narrowly wide as the hosts grew into the contest and calmed the tempo.
Leeds came out firing in the second half and made United pay as Varane's own goal doubled the advantage, but Rashford turned the tide for a sleepy United with a header just past the hour, giving Old Trafford hope of a comeback.
United were in the ascendancy although Leeds nearly scored another as Brenden Aaronson's free-kick snuck through the wall and clipped the base of a post. Up the other end, Bruno Fernandes' close-range effort was blocked after Rashford's cross picked him out.
|Goals||Gnonto, own goal (Varane), Rashford, Sancho.|
|Assists||Bamford, Summerville, Dalot|
|Bonus points||Gnonto (3), Dalot (2), Rashford (1)|
United got the breakthrough with Sancho and Shaw combining down the left as the returning forward cut in to score his first goal since September - on his first league appearance since October, when he was given a break from first-team football by manager Ten Hag having experienced a sharp drop-off in form.
Fred had a long-range strike saved by Meslier as United pushed for a winner with Rashford and Varane also denied by the French goalkeeper in the closing stages, but Leeds clung on to leave Old Trafford with a point.
Leeds were led by a trio of interim coaches at Old Trafford - Michael Skubala, Chris Armas and Paco Gallardo - who only had one full day to work with the squad following Marsch's sacking.
Skubala, the interim coach who has assumed media duties for the time being, said after the game that they had just 20 minutes to work on shape in their preparation.
But Leeds' masterplan seemed to work a treat for the first hour of the game.
And an eagled-eyed camera operator exposed just how they did it, catching a glimpse of their tactics sheet in Skubala's hand ahead of half-time.
On the piece of paper were four bullet points, the first of which was illegible. The other three, understandably straightforward given that lack of training-ground time, read: 'Close middle', 'Believe', 'Be calm'.
Losing a two-goal advantage may be tough to take, but keeping United from scoring a winner with 20 minutes left to go on the clock takes some doing in front of a roaring Old Trafford.
Leeds stuck to the plan and came away with a point.
Man Utd manager Erik ten Hag: "We win a point, but also drop two points. In each half we had a very bad start, it's unacceptable. Especially in a derby. You have to be ready to play, battle and take responsibility, and it's something we didn't do.
"You can't be surprised by a fast start, it's a derby, they will go front foot, against a team on a good run, they will get into duels with us."
On Sancho, he added: "I'm very happy. He's on the way back. We know he is a magnificent football player. He can definitely for our team be a big impact. Tonight he had, but we know he can be a consistent impact. He has to work very hard, we all do, and in this moment he is in a good mood.
"I think it will strengthen him, motivate him to even give more, then you'll get more. It's a brilliant footballer, and that second goal I really enjoyed it, and especially for him."
Leeds interim head coach Michael Skubala: "I'm really proud of the performance of the players, and in a way I'm disappointed not to win the game. I felt we did enough to win the game."
On Leeds' search for a successor, he added: "I've just been busy with this game over the past 24 hours, concentrating on making sure the players are in the right place, that's up to the board and everyone else."
Leeds and Manchester United face each other again on Sunday at Elland Road, live on Sky Sports Premier League from 1pm; kick-off 2pm.
United then resume their Europa League campaign with a trip to Barcelona on Thursday February 16 for the first leg of the play-off tie; kick-off 5.45pm.