Sunday, 4 February 2018

Match report: United 2-0 Huddersfield Town

Alexis Sanchez scored on his home debut as United marked the Munich commerorations with a routine if unspectacular win over David Wagner's struggling Huddersfield. Although the Reds never looked in danger of a repeat of the scoreline in the return fixture, following Wednesday's Wembley disappointment, we were made the work for the win.

On a poignant afternoon at Old Trafford, Romelu Lukaku broke the deadlock ten minutes after the interval before Alexis capped his man of the match showing with his first goal for the club on 22 minutes from time. With the 60th anniversary of the Munich air disaster on Tuesday, the players wore black armbands as Old Trafford fell silent before kick-off in memory of the 23 people - including eight players and three club staff - who lost their lives on the darkest day in United's history. When the match got underway, Huddersfield favoured a robust, physical approach over their high-pressing and energetic style that was the visitors trademark during their superb start to life in the Premier League. Scott McTominay - one of four changes that Jose made to the team - was flattened by Terence Kongolo in what was a stonewall penalty, but remarkably referee Stuart Attwell ruled the challenge as a coming together and took no action. Alexis then went close to a debut goal when his low 20-yard strike was tipped wide by the stretching Jonas Lossl.

There was also another shout for a spot-kick when Alexis went down under a challenge from Mathias Jorgensen, but Attwell was again unmoved. Jesse Lingard was denied by Lossl from distance, Chris Smalling headed wide and Lukaku's snap shot was blocked but, for all United's possession and territory, the Terriers managed to maintan parity until half-time.
But a breakthough felt inevitable, and, in the 55th minute, it came. Alexis was influential in the build up as he found Juan Mata after a burst forward. Mata, in turn, picked out the onrushing Lukaku with a pinpoint pass, and the Belgian swept the ball home from close range for his 19th goal of another prolific season.
13 minutes later, the Reds were finally awarded a spot-kick when Sanchez was tripped by Huddersfield substitute Michael Hefele. The Chilean took responsibility in front of the Stretty and, although his initial effort was repelled by Lossl, he snaffled up the loose ball to make it 2-0 and get off the mark in the Red of United. Substitute Anthony Martial flashed a shot wide and Lossl saved well from  Marcus Rashford - who had also started on the bench - went close with a shot on the turn.

 In truth, United should have won by a greater margin but the result saw us consolidate second place and we now trail runaway leaders City by a mere 13 points. Huddersfield, meanwhile, drop into the bottom three and suffered a fifth successive defeat. This was a much better performance by the lads than Wednesday's horrible reverse to Tottenham, as we marked the Munich anniversary with a professional performance on an emotional afternoon at OT.

Overall team performance: 7/10
United Faithful Man of the Match: Alexis Sanchez.

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