Manchester United 3, Brentford 0
Manchester United gave Juan Mata and Nemanja Matic fond farewells on a night where goals by Bruno Fernandes, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Raphael Varane gave the Reds victory over a misfiring Brentford.
It was Brentford’s first visit to Old Trafford in the Premier League era and they had a player to grace the occasion in Christian Eriksen but despite taking more shots than United during the game the Bees found a formidable opponent in David de Gea who made a stack of saves from the Dane as well as Ivan Toney and other visiting players.
It was comfortable for United in the end but the home fans know that at best this season will end their joint worst in the Premier League era and they have a long rebuild ahead in the summer starting with the arrival of new manager Erik Ten Hag.
Reds manager Ralf Rangnick made only one change from the side that drew 1-1 against Chelsea on Thursday.
Marcus Rashford made way for Juan Mata who was almost certainly making his last appearance at Old Trafford for the Reds in the one change that manager Ralf Rangnick made from Thursday.
Anthony Elanga had an early penalty claim turned down but the winger wasn’t downhearted long as he went past Mads Bech Sorensen and cut back the ball for United’s opener which was converted by Bruno Fernandes from 6 yards out.
Cristiano Ronaldo had the ball in the back of the net two minutes before the break but had it ruled out by VAR after he was adjudged to be offside after Juan Mata turned an exquisite pass into this path.
Christian Eriksen was pulling the strings for Brentford – with cute passes to release players and shots saved by David de Gea but he gave the ball away to Diogo Dalot whose 1-2 with Ronaldo ended in a shot which David Raya tipped onto his bar.
Ronaldo won and converted his own penalty when he was barged over by Rico Henry who had an attack of red mist after being pushed away in the penalty box by the Portuguese striker who was haring in on goal.
The offside flag was belatedly raised for an offside on Ronaldo while Fernandes avoided an offside shout himself shortly afterwards but pulled his shot wide of the back post.
With the expected 73rd minute Anti-Glazer protest fast approaching, United did their best to mitigate the discontent from the crowd with a well timed goal and substitutions.
First, Raphael Varane bundled the ball home from Alex Telles’ corner – effectively winning the game for United – and Juan Mata and Nemanja Matic were substituted off the Old Trafford pitch for the last time to fond applause from most of the home crowd.
While there was a protest in the corner next to the Stretford End, complete with colourful flares and chants, it was dissipated by the emotion of Varane’s goal and the player farewells.
It was so muted compared to the pre-match hype that Brentford fans were mocking the expected exodus which was nowhere near as noticeable as first thought.
The game was up for the visitors but there wasn’t even a chance of a consolation goal as Ivan Toney once again proved goal shy when set up late on while the Reds were just glad to get a potentially difficult night over after a cursory post match parade in front of rapidly thinning crowd after the final whistle.
PLAYER RATINGS – Manchester United 3, Brentford 0
David De Gea: 8. Had to make a fingertip save to keep a looping ball from Kristoffer Ajer out, but had a tough evening saving shots from Vitaly Janelt, Ivan Toney and Christian Eriksen.
Diogo Dalot: 7. Put the ball on a plate for Cristiano Ronaldo early on but not all of his crossing was of the same quality. He might have scored a great goal himself but Ronaldo was offside in the build up.
Victor Lindelof: 7. Crucial header to keep the ball away from Christian Eriksen at the far post.
Raphael Varane: 7. Scored his first United goal, scrambling home from Alex Telles’ corner.
Alex Telles: 7. Not much sign of him raiding forward but he did provide Raphael Varane’s goal from a corner.
Scott McTominay: 7. Midfield presence overshadowed by Christian Eriksen.
Nemanja Matic: 7. Showed some good touches until he was replaced after running out of steam.
Anthony Elanga: 7. Pace worried Brentford and he burned past Mads Bech Sorensen and saw his cutback turned in by Bruno Fernandes. Demanded the ball throughout.
Bruno Fernandes: 7. Ghosted in late to tap in Anthony Elanga’s cut back from 6 yards out. Pulled a great shot wide of the far post after he was released by a ball over the top.
Juan Mata: 7. Good movement as he linked play up well and might have done better with a chance set up by Ronaldo before he swung the ball. Faded a bit in the second half.
Cristiano Ronaldo: 8. Slipped up with the goal at his mercy after just 3 minutes and saw his free kick spilled by David Raya without anyone to follow-up. Had a penalty shout turned down and a goal ruled out by VAR before he finally scored from the penalty spot – but did his fair share of tracking back early on and had time for some party tricks too.
GOALS – Manchester United 3, Brentford 0
Man Utd 1, Brentford 0: 9. Bruno Fernandes made a late run and arrived in time to tap in Anthony Elanga’s cutback early on.
Man Utd 2, Brentford 0: 61. Cristiano Ronaldo sent David Raya the wrong way from the penalty spot after he had been barged over by Rico Henry.
Man Utd 3, Brentford 0: 72. Raphael Varane bundled the ball home from Alex Telles’ corner.
MATCH STATS – Manchester United 3, Brentford 0
Man Utd: De Gea, Dalot, Lindelof, Varane, Telles, McTominay, Matic (Fred 71), Elanga (Cavani 75), Fernandes, Mata (Jones 75), Ronaldo
Man Utd Subs: Henderson, Bailly, Rashford, Lingard, Fernandez, Garnacho
Booking: Matic 54 (shirt pull on Christian Eriksen)
Goals: Fernandes 9; Ronaldo pen 61; Varane 72
Brentford: Raya, Ajer, Roerslev, Bech Sorensen, Henry, Janelt (Dasilva 71), Norgaard (Jensen 71), Eriksen, Mbeumo (Wissa 76), Toney
Brentford Subs: Fernandez, Jeanvier, Fosu-Henry, Baptiste, Stevens, Young-Coombes
Referee: Chris Kavanagh