Monday, March 27, 2023

EPL: Sancho earns Man Utd point in thrilling Leeds draw

Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho combined to deny managerless Leeds a rare Old Trafford victory as Manchester United came back from two goals down to snatch a point from a thrilling Roses clash, reports BBC Sports.
The hosts looked finished when Raphael Varane turned Crysencio Summerville’s cutback into his own net to put Leeds two ahead after Wilfried Gnonto had given them a first-minute lead.
But Rashford halved the deficit when he headed home Diogo Dalot’s inviting cross before Sancho, only just back to first-team duties after recovering from physical and mental issues, scored his first Premier League goal since September when he drove home from 10 yards after Luke Shaw’s initial shot had been blocked.
Varane brought an excellent save out of Illan Meslier as Manchester United hunted a goal to extend their 13-match winning streak on home soil.
Anything less than a point would have been extremely harsh on Leeds, who sacked manager Jesse Marsch on Monday, and they also hit the post through Brenden Aaronson in between the home side’s two goals.
The result moves them a point clear of the relegation zone and above West Ham into 16th, although after this superb contest, the Elland Road rematch in four days’ time will be an occasion to relish.
Leeds claim a precious point
The general narrative around Elland Road in the wake of Marsch’s dismissal has been that the Leeds’ hierarchy would use a week that features two games against Manchester United to recruit a replacement before key clashes with relegation rivals Everton and Southampton later this month. Leeds had not won a league game at Old Trafford since 1981 and before kick-off many of their fans were speculating about what their margin of defeat would be, rather than whether they could get something from the game.
That assessment reckoned without a super motivated Leeds team, led by former England futsal head coach Michael Skubala and lethargic hosts, who began with a sloppiness seldom seen under Ten Hag since that woeful opening to his tenure that featured defeats to Brighton and Brentford.
Italian teenager Gnonto took maximum advantage of the room afforded to him by a failure to track his first-minute surge to the edge of the area by burying his shot in the bottom corner.
If he was watching as Varane turned Summerville’s cutback into his own net three minutes after the break, Marsch must have wondered why he could not have enjoyed the same slices of fortune.
Leeds are not his responsibility now of course and Skubala’s celebrations on the touchline were full of sheer delight, along with those of a coaching team that includes Chris Armas, who spent the second half of last term being derided for his contribution to Ralf Rangnick’s Manchester United staff.
Football management is not so easy though and Skubala went through a full range of emotions as Manchester United fought back, appealing for every throw and free-kick, no matter how obviously it was that they were not his team’s.
However, with the backing of their noisy support, Leeds made it to the final whistle, lifting some of the pressure off the players and placing the focus back on sporting director Victor Orta, who returned from a trip to Madrid talking to potential managers to see for himself the battling spirit that remains in this group of players.
“I’ve been really busy just looking after this job for the last few days,” said Skubala, adding he did not know whether he would be in charge at the weekend. “That’s up to other people to decide but it’s a great opportunity for the players and the staff.
“If I’m called upon then I just want to help the club in the best way I can.”


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