Here are the key takeaways from Manchester United's 5-0 win over RB Leipzig...
ANOTHER TACTICAL TRIUMPH
One of the most impressive aspects of the PSG win was how United got it right tactically, absorbing pressure and killing them on the counter. It was even better tonight.
Solskjaer got it spot on. Matic, Pogba and Fred were excellent at congesting the midfield and allowed Leipzig’s creative midfielders next-to-no space to operate in.
Having an outlet like Donny van de Beek or Bruno Fernandes ahead of them to win possession and then give the ball worked an absolute treat.
Considering Greenwood’s performance tonight and with limited quality on the wing, a 4-4-2 diamond could seriously be the way forward for United.
GREENWOOD’S UCL ARRIVAL
Speaking of Mason Greenwood, the 19-year-old was bright and took his goal with aplomb.
The timing of his run was sensational and he then, as usual, made not an easy finish look like a routine part of his game.
If I told you that was his full Champions League debut, would you believe me? He looked like he’s been playing on the biggest stage for years tonight.
With most of his appearances for United being on the wing so far, Greenwood is currently operating at 9.81 goals above his xG since the start of last season. That’s ludicrous.
Within Europe’s top five leagues, he ranks second in that metric behind Lazio’s Ciro Immobile. It indicates that whilst he’s rarely in quality goalscoring positions, most of Greenwood’s goals are for the highlight reel. What a player.
DONNY GETS HIS START
Donny van de Beek finally got his first United start at Old Trafford tonight and it must be said, he did well.
Against Leipzig, he maintained an 89% pass accuracy, completed 3 successful take-ons and created 2 chances.
He offered something new to the team in the 68 minutes he was on the pitch and emphasised how much United’s squad depth has benefitted from his arrival.
United were slightly the better team in the first half, with Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford, amongst others, watching on from the bench.
In the 164 minutes Van de Beek has played in the Premier League and Champions League so far, United have scored 6 goals, averaging a goal every 27 minutes.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wasn’t wrong in insisting the Dutchman will play a big role this season.
MARCUS RASHFORD, SUPERSTAR
What more is there to say about Marcus Rashford? He’s an absolute superstar of a footballer and a human being.
Solskjaer gave Rashford the night off ahead of Arsenal on Sunday, but introduced him with 28 minutes left to play in an attempt to kill the game off. And kill the game off, he did.
Rashford recorded an 88% pass accuracy, 4 shots (3 on target), 3 successful take-ons and, of course, his first senior hatrick. He’s the first player to score three goals off the bench since… Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
He’s now scored 4 goals in the opening 2 matchdays of this season’s Champions League. United, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, City and Atalanta are the only teams to have scored more than him.
He’s been the star of United’s season so far, and long may it continue.
A DREAM START
If anyone told me United would be on 6 points after games away at PSG and at home to Leipzig, I would’ve bitten their hand off a couple of weeks ago.
After the past two performances and results though, United now have a serious chance of topping Group H, never mind simply qualifying for the knockouts.
The Reds have back-to-back games against Istanbul Basaksehir to come now, whilst PSG and Leipzig have to face eachother.
If we can secure 12, or even 10 points, before the reverse fixtures against Leipzig and PSG, you’d back us to seal a spot in the RO16 fairly comfortably.
It would be a big feat, considering how people were reacting when the draw was made, and another clear sign of progress under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.