Scott McTominay’s early brace set Manchester United on their way to a 6-2 win over Leeds United on Sunday evening.
A win for Leeds could have taken them into the top half, while a big win for Manchester United would take them into third place.
United gave themselves a brilliant start as Leeds’ defence - even worse than United’s - shipped two McTominay goals in the first three minutes.
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The home side added two more through Bruno Fernandes and then Victor Lindelof, before Liam Cooper gave Marcelo Bielsa’s side a faint glimmer of hope before the end of the first half.
In the second half, Leeds put United under pressure but it was Dan James - rumoured to be a January target for his opponents - who broke the second-half deadlock to make it five. Bruno Fernandes converted a penalty minutes later, and Stuart Dallas pulled one back with a fine strike curled in from distance.
United continued to pepper the goal in the dying minutes of the game but could not add another, and end the day in third place in the league. Leeds stay in 14th.
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Talking point - United ruthless in attack
United were awful in defence yet again, and Leeds could easily have had more than two. But conversely United created so many chances against their opponents they could have scored even more.
The away side afforded them so much space that they were hardly made to work for the goals they did get, but the quick pace of their passing should give them hope the next time they find a more obdurate defence. They are at their best when they move the ball quickly.
The January transfer window could be a huge benefit for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. If he can get in a reliable central defender then they could challenge for a top three spot yet again.
Man of the match - Scott McTominay (Manchester United)
His two early goals set United on their way to an easy win, but he grew into the match from there. He was authoritative, using his frame to impose himself on his opponents, but had enough technique to move the ball quickly and accurately from midfield to those ahead of him. This is the player he occasionally threatens to be.
Manchester United: De Gea 6, Wan-Bissaka 5, Shaw 4, Lindelof 5, Maguire 6, Fred 7, McTominay 8, Fernandes 8, Rashford 7, Martial 7, James 7. Subs: Telles 6, Van de Beek 6, Cavani 6.
Leeds United: Meslier 7, Ayling 5, Cooper 5, Dallas 6, Phillips 5, Klich 5, Alioski 5, Harrison 6, Raphinha 6, Rodrigo 6, Bamford 6. Subs: Struijk 5, Shackleton 6, Davis 6.
2’ - GOAL! Manchester United 1-0 Leeds. McTominay scores - Dreadful from Leeds. Fernandes receives the ball in midfield with nobody near him, the defence then runs away from him, allowing him to shift it right to McTominay, also in space, who rifles in a shot to the bottom near corner.
3’ - GOAL! Manchester United 2-0 Leeds. McTominay scores - What a pathetic start from Leeds. Martial chests down a throw, rolls inside and slips inside McTominay to find his run into the box, and another low finish beats the 'keeper.
20’ - GOAL! Manchester United 3-0 Leeds. Fernandes scores - James finds Fernandes, who lays it off to Fred. He finds Martial, who is tackled and the ball runs to Fernandes, to fire into the far corner.
37’ - GOAL! Manchester United 4-0 Leeds. Lindelof scores - Fernandes whips in a corner, Martial nods it on at the near post, and Lindelof steals in at the back post to finish.
42’ - GOAL! Manchester United - Leeds. Cooper scores - A corner from the left is met by Cooper, aimed down and into the far corner, and De Gea can only get half a hand to it.
66’ - GOAL! Manchester United 5-1 Leeds. James scores - McTominay brings the ball forward, aims a pass to Fernandes, James steals in first and then sizes up the 'keeper before squeezing a shot through him.
68’ - PENALTY! Martial is simply tripped by Struijk with a clumsy foul.
70’ - GOAL! Manchester United 6-1 Leeds. Fernandes scores - The midfielder skips up to the spot, the 'keeper goes to his knees, and he strokes it into the corner.
73’ - GOAL! Manchester United 6-2 Leeds. Dallas scores - A beautiful strike. Outside the box, he simply curls in a shot to the top corner. Lovely.
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