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Ratings: Defensive masterclass gives Manchester United platform to win

Manchester United relieved nervous fans with a 2-0 win over Leicester City after goals from substitutes Marcus Rashford and Marouane Fellaini secured the win for Jose Mourinho’s men. United played the match in full flow as countless players broke the defence down and Nemanja Matic completely restricted Craig Shakespeare’s men on the counter-attack, but for some reason, the goal wouldn’t come.

Juan Mata’s rebounded goal was disallowed for offside, despite looking very much level to the last defender. Romelu Lukaku proceeded to miss a penalty that was illegally saved by Kasper Schmeichel, off his line. Many United fans were given memories of last season, in which the Red Devils couldn’t bury the ball into the back of the net despite playing excellent football.

However, substitute Rashford only needed one moment of excellence from Henrikh Mkhitaryan to score, as the Armenian international swung in an exquisite corner for the young Englishman to bury. Soon after, a moment of excellence from Jesse Lingard provided the same opportunity for Fellaini, showing that United’s options off the bench are already superb without Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and allowing fans to speculate as to how positive matches could be with the experienced Swede.

Goals: Marcus Rashford 70′, Marouane Fellaini 82′

Assists: Henrikh Mkhitaryan 70′, Jesse Lingard 82′

Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Bailly, Jones, Blind; Matic, Pogba; Mata (Rashford 67′), Mkhitaryan (Fellaini 74′), Martial (Lingard 75′); Lukaku

Substitutes Not Used: Romero; Smalling, Darmian; Herrera

Bookings: Henrikh Mkhitaryan 54′

Manchester United

1 David De Gea

Expectation defying distribution and calmness on the ball, added to by a world class save to keep his clean sheet at the end of the match. The perfect modern goalkeeper.

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25 Antonio Valencia

Delivery from the right-wing was suspect at times, and Demarai Gray seems to always give Valencia a little bit of trouble, but he was solid as usual and didn’t allow Leicester into the match.

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3 Eric Bailly

Brilliant performance from Bailly to completely stifle Vardy again, using his pace and power to dominate defence and restrict teams on the counter.

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4 Phil Jones

Equally excellent from Jones, who carried the ball into midfield in the fashion of Rio Ferdinand while maintaining his composure throughout.

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17 Daley Blind

Similar to Valencia is Blind, who gets extra credit for keeping Riyad Mahrez largely quiet. He struggled at times, but the width he provided and the cover he gave Jones was superb throughout the match.

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31 Nemanja Matic

Man of the match again, passing the ball around expertly and snuffing out Leicester’s counter attack almost every time. Notably completed seven defensive actions, the most of any player on the pitch.

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6 Paul Pogba

Very good performance, but not Pogba’s best. The midfielder took far too many wild shots at goal, only getting one of his seven on target in the first half. Against a team that counter attacks as dangerously as the Foxes, Pogba should be more considerate in possession and look to cut open the defence in ways he is fully capable of.

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8 Juan Mata

Quick feet, accurate passing, and excellent movement highlighted a superb display of skill from Mata that left fans wondering why he wasn’t rewarded with a goal. Easily his best performance from the three matches. Replaced by Rashford.

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22 Henrikh Mkhitaryan

Losing the ball, poor touches at times, and he produces the special moment to allow Rashford to score the winner. Mkhitaryan cannot be doubted, and with five assists in his first three matches, he has been arguably United’s best player thus far. Replaced by Fellaini.

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11 Anthony Martial

Martial was also excellent on the night, getting involved and keeping the ball while also taking his chances. Won Lukaku’s penalty with a speculative cross that hit the hand of Danny Simpson. Replaced by Lingard.

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9 Romelu Lukaku

Loses points for missing a penalty, because it was a poor take even though it was illegally saved by Kasper Schmeichel. However, he was excellent throughout the match, creating countless chances for his teammates to score with his excellent build-up play.

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Substitutes

19 Marcus Rashford

Replaced Mata. Excellent contribution to score the winner, and teased Leicester’s defence afterward.

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27 Marouane Fellaini

Replaced Mkhitaryan. Picked his moment to score a somewhat lucky goal, but still played his part and ensured the clean sheet.

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14 Jesse Lingard

Replaced Martial. Didn’t have enough time to influence the match, but even so, he picked up an assist for Fellaini’s important goal after a couple of clever moments. He could be huge this season.

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Written by Aaron Moniz

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