Man United vs Leeds was always going to be a grudge match and the game did not disappoint. With Man United’s top four hopes in tatters, they needed this win desperately with three games remaining before May 25th; now their fans can feel more confident about their possible shot at Champions League qualification.
Man United responded to Leeds hostility with a thrilling 3-2 win as Harry Maguire and Co. stepped up. The result sees the Red Devils move up to second in the table, behind Liverpool.
LEEDS, United Kingdom — The fans at Elland Road had been waiting 19 years for a Premier League match between Leeds United and Manchester United to be played in front of them. If the rest of the world was wondering what all the commotion was about, the teams put up a fantastic match on Sunday, with Ralf Rangnick’s visitors winning 4-2.
With goals, end-to-end excitement, and a passionate, noisy atmosphere, as well as nine yellow cards issued by referee Paul Tierney and a late confrontation involving both sets of players that saw Rangnick run onto the pitch to intervene, this game showed the good, the bad, and the ugly of this bitter rivalry.
Off the field, there were items thrown at numerous Man United goal scorers, including Anthony Elanga, who was struck in the head, as well as a barrage of nasty shouts from both sets of fans.
Leeds fans were seen chanting about the Munich catastrophe, a 1958 aircraft accident that killed eight Man United players, and raising their arms in the shape of an airplane. Away fans retaliated with songs about two Leeds fans who were stabbed to death in Istanbul in 2000 before a match against Galatasaray.
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Unfortunately, this is the truth of a Leeds-Man United rivalry that has been dormant for far too long. While the teams did meet in the league last season, the COVID-19 pandemic forced games at Old Trafford and Elland Road to be played behind closed doors after Leeds’ promotion from the Championship in 2020.
As a result, 900 police officers were on duty for the inaugural Elland Road encounter with supporters, a Premier League record. When Manchester United travels to Leeds, they are usually met with greater hatred than when they go to Liverpool or Manchester City.
Yorkshire and Lancashire have had a historical rivalry stretching back to the Wars of the Roses in the 15th century, although the teams do not share a city in contemporary sense, and both have closer geographical opponents.
In terms of sport, the animosity originates from Leeds fans’ long-standing dissatisfaction that their great squad of the 1960s and 1970s never earned the attention that they believe has been lavished on more fashionable Manchester United teams.
Furthermore, Eric Cantona’s transfer to Manchester United in 1992 has never been forgiven by Leeds. The French striker went on to win the Premier League four times and become a hero across the Pennines, a region of mountains and hills that separates the two towns. He had propelled Leeds to championship success at the cost of Man United the previous season.
Man United’s Harry Maguire, in the centre, sent them on their path to a thrilling victory against Leeds. PA Images/Mike Egerton via Getty Images
The sheer intensity of noise and support for the home side definitely caught Man United’s players off guard in this recent match, which was played in torrential weather. Rangnick’s team took some time to settle into a game that would put their commitment and fighting spirit to the test.
Initially, the reaction was good, as Harry Maguire scored his first league goal of the season in response to unfavorable articles regarding his captaincy. The header from a Luke Shaw corner put an end to a run of 139 failed set pieces, and when Bruno Fernandes extended the advantage shortly before half-time, the points seemed to be secure.
The motivation of Man United’s players has been questioned, and when Rodrigo and Raphinha scored twice in the space of 58 seconds at the opening of the second half, the visitors were once again scrutinized.
Would they react positively or, once again, shrink in the face of adversity, allowing important points to slip away? A significant step toward a top-four finish was completed thanks to goals from replacements Fred and Elanga, and the performance will put Man United in excellent position for forthcoming travels to Atletico Madrid in Europe, as well as Man City, Liverpool, and Arsenal in the league.
“It took us 15 minutes to establish control of the game, but then we began to play well; at halftime, we were well aware that we needed to be on the front foot, but we surrendered two goals in two minutes, and it certainly transformed the game,” Rangnick said. “The atmosphere was incredible, but we maintained our composure and kept our cool.”
With their commitment, Maguire, Shaw, and Scott McTominay inspired teammates, while Jadon Sancho, who was taunted by Leeds fans with chants about letting England down with his Euro 2020 final penalty shootout miss, assisted Fernandes and Fred in one of his best performances since joining from Borussia Dortmund, registered assists for Fernandes and Fred.
Maguire remarked, “We had to fight back and remain together.” “We knew it was a difficult place to visit, but we also knew we had traits that might harm them. We stated at halftime that we needed to score more goals in the second half, and we did so.”
Marcelo Bielsa’s team played on the front foot again and were rewarded, but they also continue to leave the back door open; both goals Leeds surrendered in the second half came as a result of counter-attacking errors. The atmosphere at Elland Road, as well as their willingness to attack, should be enough to keep them going.
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