Manchester United made hard work of their 2-1 win over Sheffield United on Saturday evening.
After a slow start, Scott McTominay improvised a volley to put the Red Devils, but he went from hero to villain by immediately conceding a penalty from which Oli McBurnie bagged an equaliser.
Man Utd were on top for the vast majority of the second half and snatched the win through Diogo Dalot’s sensational strike from range midway through the second half.
How the game unfolded
Sheffield United got in early and McBurnie drove low into the arms of Andre Onana inside the opening few minutes at Bramall Lane.
The home side remained on top in the opening stages, with Man Utd forced to settle for sporadic counters which failed to test Wes Foderingham, whereas Onana had to be alert to deny Cameron Archer from range.
Completely against the run of play, Erik ten Hag’s side poked themselves ahead. McTominay rescued a poor pass from Bruno Fernandes and managed to turn it into a scruffy volley which found its way into the back of the net, handing Man Utd a lead they hardly deserved at this point.
Just three minutes later, however, McTominay quite literally handed Sheffield United the chance to equalise when he used his arm to block a cross into the box, and up stepped McBurnie to convert the ensuing penalty and score his first Premier League goal in over three years.
Marcus Rashford fizzed a ball across the six-yard box and Rasmus Hojlund was just inches away from tapping home a second for Man Utd, before Fernandes sent a free-kick off the top of Foderingham’s crossbar.
In the dying embers of the first half, Foderingham made a superb stop to deny Hojlund as United ended the first 45 on top.
It was Onana who made the first real stop of the second half. Oliver Norwood’s ferocious strike needed tipping over, before Rashford drove wide at the other end of the pitch after some good work from Antony.
Sofyan Amrabat crashed against the frame of the goal with a sublime strike from distance, but Man Utd continued to be frustrated by the home side, who were increasingly willing to sit deep and protect their point.
It was always going to take something special to get the job done, and that’s exactly what Dalot provided with his rocket from range in the 77th minute.
Alejandro Garnacho nearly managed his own strike from distance and had Foderingham rooted to the ground as his effort struck the side netting, forcing Man Utd to settle for their two goals.
GK: Wes Foderingham – 6/10 – Did well as Man Utd ramped things up towards the end of the first half but may be a little disappointed with Dalot’s goal.
RB: Jayden Bogle – 6/10 – A few uncomfortable moments as Bogle failed to track Rashford in the first half. The team’s deeper positioning helped him solve that after the break.
CB: Auston Trusty – 6/10 – Picked up a foolish yellow card but did well against Man Utd’s lively threat. Had his hands full with Hojlund.
CB: Jack Robinson – 6/10 – A couple of really fierce challenges to try and disrupt Man Utd’s threat. Didn’t always come out on top of his battles but can’t fault the desire.
LB: Luke Thomas – 5/10 – Didn’t inspire a whole lot of confidence in defence. Couldn’t really keep up with Antony.
RM: James McAtee – 6/10 – Some truly excellent moments going forward. Really caused plenty of problems but didn’t always fulfil his defensive duties. Bogle needed help and it was never coming.
CM: Vinicius Souza – 7/10 – Put in a real shift, working tirelessly to try and offer some cover for his defence. It took Man Utd plenty of time to get to grips with him.
CM: Oliver Norwood – 6/10 – Put himself about as well but was guilty of some sloppy fouls which did his side no favours.
LM: Gustavo Hamer – 6/10 – A very lively start but struggled to find a way into the game once the visitors started to take control of proceedings.
ST: Oli McBurnie – 7/10 – Posed a massive problem for Man Utd’s centre-backs due to his physicality and relentless determination. One of the most satisfying penalties you’ll ever see. Forced off through injury.
ST: Cameron Archer – 6/10 – Did really well in the first half as he linked up with McBurnie, but his partner’s injury took its toll as Archer drifted out of the game.
SUB: Rhian Brewster (51′ for McBurnie) – 6/10
SUB: Ben Osborn (78′ for McAtee) – N/A
SUB: Benie Traore (84′ for Hamer) – N/A
Subs not used: Jordan Amissah (GK), Femi Seriki, Ryan One, John Fleck, Anis Ben Slimane, Jili Buyabu
Paul Heckingbottom – 7/10 – It took real guts to stick with the same midfield that struggled so much against Newcastle last time out. This formation made a massive difference and his side were unfortunate not to get something here.
GK: Andre Onana – 6/10 – Was busier than he expected but will be relieved to make it through the game without attracting unwanted attention. Could do nothing about the penalty.
RB: Diogo Dalot – 7/10 – A quiet first half but made the difference with a glorious goal to seal all three points.
CB: Harry Maguire – 7/10 – Another solid defensive performance from Maguire, who hoovered up plenty of loose balls. Seemed to pop up all over the pitch as well.
CB: Jonny Evans – 6/10 – Spent plenty of time in midfield in a fascinating hybrid role. Showed real tactical discipline to do the job.
LB: Victor Lindelof – 5/10 – Looked uncomfortable at left-back, but that’s partly because he’s not a left-back. Ironically, it was that inability to play with his left foot that actually led to the winning goal.
DM: Scott McTominay – 6/10 – Did very well with his goal but immediately cancelled that out by conceding a penalty.
DM: Sofyan Amrabat – 6/10 – A slow start to the game which saw Amrabat struggle to keep up with the pace, although McTominay’s runs forward often left him isolated.
RM: Antony – 6/10 – Had some really lively moments but drifted in and out of the game too often.
AM: Bruno Fernandes – 6/10 – Somehow got the assist for McTominay’s opener and hit the bar with a free-kick, and yet this still didn’t feel like a strong game from Fernandes. Some poor passing limited his team in the final third.
LM: Marcus Rashford – 5/10 – Got the odd glimpse of goal when Bogle fell asleep. Seemed determine to dribble himself into danger.
ST: Rasmus Hojlund – 6/10 – Really worked hard and could have easily had his first Premier League goal, had it not been for Foderingham.
SUB: Anthony Martial (63′ for Hojlund) – 6/10
SUB: Christian Eriksen (63′ for McTominay) – 6/10
SUB: Alejandro Garnacho (63′ for Antony) – 6/10
SUB: Raphael Varane (84′ for Evans) – N/A
SUB: Mason Mount (87′ for Rashford) – N/A
Subs not used: Altay Bayindir (GK), Hannibal Mejbri, Donny van de Beek, Facundo Pellistri
Erik ten Hag – 5/10 – It didn’t feel like tactics were behind Man Utd’s comeback here. Ten Hag seems to have lost his identity and is reliant on individual moments of brilliance.