Brentford 1, Manchester United 3
Goals by Anthony Elanga, Mason Greenwood, and Marcus Rashford gave Manchester United a landmark win on the road at Brentford.
Victory meant United became the first side to reach 300 away wins in the Premier League but they were once again indebted to David De Gea who came to the Reds’ rescue several times with well timed saves and blocks, aided by the defenders in front of him, before United put the game beyond their hosts in the second half.
With 77 saves as of the end of the first half, the Spaniard led the league with the most saves this season but will have been disappointed with the defending after the Reds failed to clear a long throw into the box by Mads Bech Sorensen which allowed Ivan Toney to grab a late consolation – the least that the home side deserved after their all action display for an hour.Embed from Getty Images
Three academy graduates were on target as United boss Ralf Rangnick scrapped the 4-2-2-2 formation to play a 4-2-3-1 formation, and despite early wobbles and a stroppy reaction from Cristiano Ronaldo after he was substituted, the Reds responded.
United interim boss Ralf Rangnick was delighted with the win after United had struggled in the first half.
He said: “We had to change a few things at half time. The first half we were not good in all aspects of the game.
“We gave away almost every second ball.
“David De Gea kept us in it with brilliant saves in the first half.
“In the second half we were more urgent and attacked them in the right positions and we scored.”
He also had praise for his young guns up front tonight – adding:
“I’m happy for three young English goalscorers today.
“Anthony Elanga followed up on the performance at Villa Park.
“Today he was outstanding in the second half, he did a lot of work off the ball and scored a goal.
He played down the tantrum that Cristiano Ronaldo had after he was taken off midway through the second half, claiming:
“It’s normal, as a striker he wants to score goals, but he’s come back from an injury and we have an important game in three days time.
“I wanted to make sure we defended that lead this time and we switched to a back five.
“I wanted to keep a clean sheet at the end but we got the points.”
Ronaldo and Scott McTominay returned to the starting line-up after injury and suspension respectively.
Edinson Cavani and Nemanja Matic stepped down and the Uruguayan missed out on the trip to London altogether.
Their hosts made four changes from their last game with the Premier League experience of ex-Huddersfield Town goalkeeper Jonas Lossl being called on in goal to add consistency.
For all his experience, Lossl got himself into a pickle with a loose ball and Ronaldo lurking after just nine minutes.
United looked comfortable until the 12th minute when De Gea had to save from Mathias Jensen and Vitaly Janelt’s follow-up was deflected wide.
Mads Bech Sorensen also saw his shot deflected wide as the Bees piled on the pressure from a succession of corners with Christian Norgaard missing out too.
The commitment was there too with Pontus Jansson clashing heads with Fred as both went for the ball.
United were having trouble breaking their hosts down, and space was at a premium leaving the Reds to try from range – Diogo Dalot tired a long range piledriver which curled wide.
Jensen had another shot saved by De Gea while Toney’s ball back into the box was cleared by Raphael Varane.
De Gea saved again from Toney from an offside position as the Bees kept buzzing United throughout the first half.
Ronaldo’s header came off the top of the crossbar early in the second half but Brentford were quickly on the break and Jensen was once again denied by De Gea.
United still couldn’t trouble Lossl in the Brentford goal with Brentford’s defenders scooping away attempts to put the ball into the area.
United weather the Brentford attack and strike as the Bees tire
But both sides continued to attack all night until Elanga controlled Fred’s swept pass into the area and headed home the looping ball past Lossl in the 55th minute – his first goal of the season.
McTominay’s bobbling effort soon afterwards was parried away by Lossl as United pressed for a second with Brentford fading after an hour.
Mason Greenwood had a tap in for his 6th goal of the season after Brentford were caught upfield and Ronaldo released Bruno Fernandes with a chested pass down after McTominay won the ball and the Portuguese unselfishly slipped in Greenwood by his side as the goal loomed for the pair of them.
Harry Maguire replaced Ronaldo with 19 minutes to go, the Portuguese threw down his coat in frustration at not being allowed a chance to get on the scoresheet himself.
Marcus Rashford replaced Greenwood at the same time and he put the game beyond their feisty hosts not long afterwards.
Rashford rifled a third in after 77 minutes to end his 11 game goal drought when McTominay won the ball in midfield, passing the ball to Fernandes who put the ball on a plate for the relieved striker.
Ivan Toney finally gave Brentford something to cheer after the long throw wasn’t cleared and Toney stabbed home the loose ball 5 minutes from the end.
Fernandes could have restored the three goal lead in injury time after breaking free but his poor chipped effort will have baffled the travelling fans.
GOALS – Brentford 1, Manchester United 3
Brentford 0, Man Utd 1: 55. Anthony Elanga headed home the looping ball past Jonas Lossl after he trapped Fred’s low ball into the area and flicked it into the air.
Brentford 0, Man Utd 2: 62. Mason Greenwood had a tap-in after Bruno Fernandes unselfishly slipped him in after he was released by a chested down ball from defence by Cristiano Ronaldo.
Brentford 0, Man Utd 3: 77. Marcus Rashford rifled the ball into the roof of the net after Scott McTominay won the ball in midfield and released Bruno Fernandes who found Rashford with a forward pass to end his goal drought.
Brentford 1, Man Utd 3: 85. Ivan Toney stabbed home the loose ball after United failed to clear a trademark long throw-in sent into the box.
MATCH STATS – Brentford 1, Manchester United 3
Brentford: Lossl, Bech Sorensen, Jansson, Pinnock, Roerslev, Jensen (Wissa 67), Norgaard, Janelt (Baptiste 64), Canos (Henry 64), Mbeumo, Toney
Brentford subs not used: Fernandez, Forss, Ghoddos, Ajer, Bistrup, Stevens
Goal: Toney 85
Man Utd: De Gea, Dalot, Lindelof, Varane, Telles, Fred, McTominay (Matic 84), Greenwood (Rashford 71), Fernandes, Elanga, Ronaldo (Maguire 71)
Man Utd subs not used: Heaton, Henderson, Jones, Mata, Martial, van de Beek
Goals: Elanga 55; Greenwood 62; Rashford 77
Referee: Andre Marriner