Manchester United got off to a winning start to its Premier League season thanks to two returning stars in a 5-1 win over Leeds United on Saturday at a vibrant Old Trafford.
Paul Pogba had four assists and Bruno Fernandes scored three times, Mason Greenwood and Fred also scoring in the blowout win.
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Pogba set up Fernandes for a first-half goal and the Red Devils barely looked back as a familiar lineup led them to the three points and the very, very early top of the table following Arsenal’s 2-0 loss to Brentford on Friday.
Luke Ayling scored a terrific goal for Leeds in the loss, briefly leveling the score at 1 early in the second half.
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3 things we learned from Manchester United – Leeds
1. Pogba, Bruno off to classy start: So what if names like Rashford, Cavani, Martial, and Sancho were either on the bench or unavailable? Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes are still world-class playmakers (video) and the former’s terrific first-touch pass was met with the latter’s delightful take and finish to make it 1-0 to the Old Trafford set early in the match.
Fernandes would score twice more, one with a tremendous cut move to make it 4-1 early in the second half, so we know there will be a lot of love for a hat trick but please don’t sleep on Pogba’s three assists in the first 60 minutes. Sure, the third was pretty much about Bruno but his chipped first touch to put the Portuguese in the box for 1-0 and his long, grass-tracing pass to releasse Greenwood was spectacular and came moments after Leeds had made it 1-1.
2. Phillips’ absence felt: Marcelo Bielsa did not use English EURO star Kalvin Phillips to start and any questions about the import of Leeds’ havoc-creating midfielder were answered early in the second half. And while that chaos comes for the opposition, he also gives so much calm to the other 10 men on the field with him for Leeds.
3. Enter the Sancho: Kept in bubble wrap by Gareth Southgate, we got a long-delayed (but short) look at Jadon Sancho. The ex-Borussia Dortmund star’s debut lasted 15 minutes and wasn’t much due to the game being in the bag. He converting a dribble and made 16 touches off the bench.
Man of the Match: Paul Pogba
Manchester United – Leeds recap
The hosts were in control aside from a five-minute spell early in the first half, and Leeds goalkeeper Illan Mesler was required to intervene on several occasions as part of a three-save opening 45 minutes.
And the goal was deserved.
Meslier’s mishit long pass was quickly moved from Scott McTominay to Pogba and then Bruno and Man United was on the board.
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But Ayling painted the side netting with a delightful arrow from well outside the 18 to make it 1-1 just after halftime, taking a Liam Cooper lay off and letting fly toward David De Gea’s goal.
Greenwood’s answer came shortly after as Pogba hit a long, worm-burning touch pass onto the path of the youngster, who dragged his shot to the left of a splayed Meslier.
And it was 3-1 within moments, Pogba’s third assist more about Fernandes’ brilliant cut to freeze Junior Firpo for a shot past Meslier. Goodnight?
Bruno made it 4-1 off a Victor Lindelof assist and Pogba then put his fourth on the score sheet with a cross from the left that Fred smashed home.