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Report: Nemanja Matic and a brace from Paul Pogba sank Huddersfield Town at Old Trafford on Boxing Day

Manchester United beat Huddersfield Town 3-1 at Old Trafford on Boxing Day. Nemanja Matic scored the opening goal, then a brace by Paul Pogba in the second half. Zanka got a late consolation for the visitors in the 88th minute. Angel Gomes got himself ten minutes of first team football under his belt, which will be both beneficial to him and United. Bournemouth visits Old Trafford next…

United got the game underway with the kick off and immediately aimed to get forward and attack their opposition. Fred then gave the ball away in a poor position with Isaac Mbenza picking up the loose ball but his shot on goal was rising over the crossbar. Huddersfield had a good start in the opening stages, pressuring United high up the pitch, aiming to force errors. It was United that needed to be doing more of that in this game.

United had a better spell of possession heading into the sixth minute of the match. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was stood on the touchline pushing his side to drive them forward. A few minutes later, United were still in control of the ball, however, not in attacking areas, which is where they needed to be in order to take first blood. In the tenth minute, Jesse Lingard flicked the ball through for Juan Mata but he got too much on it and Jonas Lossl gathered the ball easily.

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Huddersfield had a chance in the 12th minute with Terence Kongolo on the end of a flick after a long throw seemed to have caused a problem in United’s area. Kongolo could only blaze his shot over the crossbar from six yards. United then started to play some better football after Fred picked out Mata, whose cross into Marcus Rashford was a little out of range with Rashford struggling to get his head on the ball. Lingard then picked up a loose ball but his eventual shot was straight to Lossl.

Alex Pritchard whipped in a decent free-kick in the 18th minute but Fred was standing in the way of the ball gaining ground and pressuring United. The Brazilian midfielder hooked the ball clear. United need to change gear and actually get going in this game. Huddersfield seems to have it in them to cause problems and their confidence will only grow as the game draws on. Mata then looked for Luke Shaw on the left but fired the ball out of play instead.

In the 22nd minute of the game, the first card was shown with Elias Kachunga taking Rashford out, earning one of the most obvious yellow cards of the season so far. United did not do anything with the free-kick and Huddersfield took possession of the ball. United did win a throw-in, able to then keep possession and launch an attack into the opposition area. Fred was starting to find comfort, passing the ball around in midfield, on the attack. However, Huddersfield were always quick to close the space down.

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Rashford played a backheel for Paul Pogba in the 26th minute of the match, a few minutes after the visiting supporters were asking “is this a library”. Pogba elected to shoot form a tight angle but it was just another easy save for Lossl. United won a free-kick in the 28th minute of the match but the ball is deflected and out for a corner. United managed to get something from the game from the set-piece with Nemanja Matic tapping the ball into an empty net inside the same minute. United were 1-0 up.

Fred was booked for a challenge in the 30th minute after a follow through. The Brazilian, despite showing some passing ability, has struggled in the game so far. I’m not sure he is Manchester United material. Huddersfield had a chance through Pritchard in the 32nd minute, from a free-kick, which was fired into the middle but Diogo Dalot headed clear at the back post. Pogba then had a chance to shoot, from ranger two minutes later, passing his first opportunity, taking the second, which was straight to Lossl.

Mbenza tried to dash down the right flank but the cross was poor which led to David De Gea coming out to gather the ball. Shaw then broke down the left, pulled the ball back for Mata, whose effort was goalbound by blocked behind for a corner. United nearly had a second in the 40th minute of the game after Rashford beat his man on the left, creating some space and then fired a cross into the box for Dalot, whose shot was wide of the target. It was some great play created by Rashford.

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In the 42nd minute of the match, Rashford had a go at goal himself but he dragged his shot off target. In the final minute of normal time, Dalot broke forward on the right, played a cross into the box which was punched clear by Lossl before it found a teammate. A minute of time was added at the end of the half, which United had dominated, despite a poor start. Huddersfield had a shot just before half-time, hitting the side netting. The first half ended with United 1-0 in the lead.

There were no changes for either team at the start of the second half. Huddersfield started well after Laurent Depoitre had an acrobatic effort which was never going to find the target. In the 49th minute, Rashford was fouled and stayed down with Huddersfield playing on, despite jeers from the crowd for the opposition players to put the ball out of play. Rashford seemed fine to continue though.

Huddersfield broke quickly in the 51st minute with Philip Billing feeding Depoitre, who cut inside. Mbenza arrived, took the ball off his teammate before firing a fierce effort on goal which was blocked by Matic. Huddersfield then had another chance a minute later after Pritchard fed the ball for Kachunga but the final ball flew over the crossbar. Solskjaer had seen enough and put through a double substitution with Fred and Dalot being replaced by Ander Herrera and Ashley Young.

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David Wagner made his first substitution in the 56th minute with Chris Lowe on for Kachunga. Matic threaded a lovely pass into Rashford in the 58th minute but his strike was blocked by the visitors. In the 60th minute, Young fired a free-kick into the middle by Pogba was unable to get his head on the ball and it went out of play for a goal kick. De Gea was forced to make a save in the 62nd minute after a flicked effort from Depoitre which seemed to be heading for the top corner.

Huddersfield made a second substitution in the 64th minute with Colin Quaner replacing Mbenza. United doubled their lead in the same minute as Pogba buried his effort into the back of the net after Mata kept the ball in the box, Herrera kept the ball in the box, passing to Pogba to get the assist. It was a great team goal for United and one they needed to get into the back of the net to take the pressure off them. Could there be another goal in the game yet?

Shaw had a fierce strike on goal in the 68th minute but it was straight to Lossl with United still on the hunt for a third goal in this game. There is plenty of time for United to get something, also time for Angel Gomes to be given a rare opportunity with no other attacking players on the bench. In the 70th minute, Phil Jones made a timely interception with Quaner lurking in the area with intent to get something back for the visitors, however, that was not coming.

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Huddersfield had another opportunity after both Shaw and Lingard made a mess of clearing the ball but they got away with it. Quaner failed to capitalise. In the 74th minute, Wagner made his final substitution with Depoitre being replaced by Steve Mounie. United slowed the game down in the 76th minute after some pressure from the visitors. Pogba made it 3-0 with a great strike into the back of the net, assisted by Lingard. Solskjaer then made his final substitution with Angel Gomes replacing Mata.

It is great to see 18-year-old Gomes get a few minutes under his belt at Old Trafford. He’s previously played around four minutes in two appearances, getting ten minutes today will help him further his career at the club, which will be great to see as he really does have bags of talent but needs to keep himself grounded at the same time. Huddersfield, after some pressure, got a consolation goal in the 88th minute of the match through Zanka.

Three minutes were played at the end of the second half. Rashford was still chasing everything down and sliding into challenges to win the ball in advanced areas. United failed to keep a clean sheet but the victory was theirs before Huddersfield scored. It was Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first home win of the season, two wins in two so far. United will entertain Bournemouth at the Theatre of Dreams on Sunday and after a massive 5-0 defeat by Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley, they might not look forward to it.

Goals: Nemanja Matic 28′, Paul Pogba 64′, 78′; Zanka 88′

Assists: Ander Herrera 64′, Jesse Lingard 78′; Steve Mounie 88′

Manchester United: De Gea; Dalot (Young 54′), Lindelof, Jones, Shaw; Fred (Herrera 54′), Matic; Mata (Gomes 80′), Pogba, Lingard; Rashford

Substitutes Not Used: Romero; Bailly; Pereira, Fellaini

Bookings: Fred 30′; Elias Kachunga 22′

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