Manchester United beat Nottingham Forest 3-0 in the final Premier League at Old Trafford in 2022. Marcus Rashford opened the scoring in the 19th minute before Anthony Martial bagged a second goal for his club three minutes later. Forest had a goal ruled out by VAR for offside. Fred scored a late goal for United, extending the clubs lead and therefore putting pressure on Spurs who sit a point ahead with United having a game in hand.
United started well in the opening stages of the final Premier League match at Old Trafford in 2022. After Tottenham Hotspur slipped to a draw on Boxing Day, United need to take advantage to reduce their four-point lead in the table down to one after this match (with a victory) still having a game in hand over Spurs. United had not always taken their chances like this well in the past. In the sixth minute Marcus Rashford saw his shot blocked and Tyrell Malacia saw his saved.
Christian Eriksen was banging on the door in the 15th minute which his shot on goal blocked from causing any damage to the newly promoted club, who look likely to be relegated from the Premier League once again based on their current form. United then won two corners, and form the second it resulted in Marcus Rashford scoring the opening goal with Eriksen getting his seventh assist of the season – Rashford scoring his tenth goal of the season.
Just three minutes later, United were 2-0 up in the match after Anthony Martial scored his fifth goal of the season, this time assisted by Rashford, with his fourth assist of the season. It was a great finish for the Frenchman, who was on target with the strike with the ball coming off the hands of Wayne Hennessey. United were starting to look good again after attacking a lot more than Forest in the early stages of the first half. Ten Hag will be pleased with this performance.
In the 27th minute of the match Tyrell Malacia was shown his second yellow card of the Premier League season for a foul. Just two minutes later, Orel Mangala was shown the yellow card after a foul on Rashford. In the 32nd minute, Ryan Yates had a shot on goal which was saved by David De Gea. It was the first credible chance on goal for the opposition, who seemed to be dire in comparison to United. It would turn out to be a tough match for Steve Cooper.
Antony missed the target with a shot in the 38th minute of the match, which could have put United a lot further ahead in the match. Forest then had the ball in the back of the net with five minute of the half left to play as Yates seemed to shoot towards goal, it coming off Willy Boly and into the back of the net. VAR checked for a possible handball, then an offside, which was ruled against Boly with the goal being disallowed. It was a lucky one for United, who would have conceded.
The first half ended 2-0 in United’s favour with Forest needing something short of a miracle to get something from this match. At the start of the second half, there were no substitutions for either team. Mangala got an attempt on goal in the 50th minute of the match, missing the target completely. Forest made their first substitution in the 53rd minute with Lewis O’Brien replaces Jesse Lingard, who had his return to Old Trafford ended early because of an injury.
Antony should have done so much better in the 56th minute with United on the attack with Bruno Fernandes on the ball inside the box. He played the ball to the Brazilian, who shot straight at the goalkeeper. Eriksen has a shot on goal in the same minute, launching his shot over the crossbar this time. Martial had a shot on goal on the hour mark of the match with Hennessey making the save to deny the Frenchman from a second goal of the match.
Forest made a triple substitution in the 62nd minute with Sam Surridge, Harry Toffolo and Emmanuel Dennis replacing Taiwo Awoniyi, Renan Lodi and Orel Mangala. United then made a double substitution in the 65th minute of the match with Donny van de Beek and Alejandro Garnacho replacing Anthony Martial and Antony. Both Casemiro and Fernandes has speculative shots on goal in the 72nd and 73rd minutes of the match.
Forest made their final substitution in the 74th minute of the match with Neco Williams replacing Serge Aurier. Eriksen was booked in the same minute – his second booking in the league this season. In the 77th minute, United made a double substitution with Harry Maguire and Fred replacing Raphael Varane and Christian Eriksen. Alejandro Garnacho was booked in the 83rd minute with the Old Trafford crowd chanting ‘Viva Garnacho’ in unison.
United found a third goal in the match with Fred scoring after Casemiro played the ball into him. The Brazilian defensive midfielder who signed from Real Madrid in the summer has been a class act in this match, covering almost every blade of grass in the match and showing that he is an integral cog to this team. Fred’s finish was good beating Hennessey with United getting the three points on offer in this match. Five minutes were added at the end of the match.
United were not finished in the match with Fred finding a third goal of the match with Casemiro assisting him in the 87th minute of the match – ten minutes after he came on. United had all three points in the bag in the final match of 2022 at Old Trafford with a trip to Wolverhampton Wanderers on New Year’s Eve with United seeking to end 2022 in style. It is possible that with a victory and Spurs not playing until Sunday – United could be in the top four before the end of 2022.
David De Gea: Made a good save with his chest against Forest. Conceded a goal at the end of the first half but VAR ruled it out. His first start after the World Cup with Dubravka starting against Burnley last week. Seemed composed and capable of helping United prevail with Spurs dropping points on Boxing Day with United just a point behind them with a game in hand making their rise into the top four possible this season. ★★★★★★★
Aaron Wan-Bissaka: Despite not featuring for United much this season – he has not played in two back-to-back matches and performed well. He got an assist against Burnley in the Carabao Cup last week but in this match, he seemed to pull something out of the bag to kind of change the minds of some supporters who feel he should be sold. He could yet take on Dalot in the right-back role this season, which would be good to see. ★★★★★★
Raphael Varane: Made his return from the FIFA World Cup heartache just nine days after the final and seemed to continue his solid defending, doing what he needed to do silently and without much notice. The Frenchman is such a top defender that he makes it look simple, even despite the opposition not attacking all that fluent. He was replaced by Maguire in the 77th minute with the England international stepping up huis return after the World Cup and illness. ★★★★★★★★
Luke Shaw: The England international started as a left central defender in the back four with Tyrell Malacia starting at left-back. Shaw has been used to playing in a similar position with England playing on the left side of a back three. He did what was needed in this match and seemed strong in the position and did not really do much wrong. That said, it was a temporary measure just like Casemiro playing in the back four against Burnley before Christmas. ★★★★★★★
Tyrell Malacia: The Dutchman made his second start since his return from the World Cup, despite being unused in the tournament. Playing at left-back with Shaw playing as the left central defender, the Netherlands international did well at times. His attacking could have been better but United did what they needed to do early in the match – getting the win kind of sealed in the first half – despite a Forest goal cancelled out by VAR. ★★★★★★
Casemiro: A class act. Man of the Match for me. Covered almost evert blade of grass and ended the match with an assist for Fred’s late goal. Since signing from Real Madrid in the summer, despite the speculation linking Frenkie de Jong to the Old Trafford club, it seems that United have ended up with the better player. The Brazilian had a positive World Cup, despite exiting the tournament early. He still seems hungry for accolades, which is a good thing for United. ★★★★★★★★
Christian Eriksen: Got his seventh assist of the season with Rashford’s opener from the corner. The Denmark international is a great player for United and shows his worth every time he plays. What a signing Ten Hag made in the summer. Continued his fire to help run the midfield in the second half before he was replaced by Fred in the 77th minute with the Brazilian getting a late goal for United. Eriksen may require some rest at times but when he plays, he’s a class act. ★★★★★★
Antony: The Brazilian had a few chances on goal – not of them looking like scoring. It seems that his injury before the FIFA World Cup, then the tournament itself has upset his season which started with three consecutive goals in his first three Premier League appearances. I am sure he will be pushed to find his goalscoring ability once again in the coming weeks as United will need goals from across the squad to reach the minimum this season. ★★★★
Bruno Fernandes: The Portuguese midfielder was quietly effective against Forest and created some good chances for those ahead of him – putting chances on a silver platter for both Antony and Martial in the second half. With Ronaldo now away from Old Trafford, Fernandes will have that opportunity to step up and once again be the star of this team, which happened almost immediately once he signed for United in January 2020. ★★★★★★★
Marcus Rashford: Scored his tenth goal of the season so far after Eriksen took the corner, providing him with the assist. What a finish it was for the England international. Three minutes later, he got his fourth assist of the season for Martial’s goal, which saw United go 2-0 up in the match. Rashford ended the evening with just a goal and an assist, which was good enough. He was replaced by Elanga, who is currently linked to Everton on loan next month. ★★★★★★★★
Anthony Martial: Scored his fifth goal of the season in the 22nd minute of the math with a superb finish which came off the goalkeeper and into the back of the net. The Frenchman will be pleased that he has ended his goal drought over his last three matches. Martial was then replaced by van de Beek in the 65th minute of the match, ending his final appearance at Old Trafford in 2022 with a goal. It was good to see him scoring once again. ★★★★★★
Donny van de Beek: Replaced Martial 65′. The Dutchman had a bright performance from the bench although he did not contribute to the goals or assists. It seems unlikely that he will remain at Old Trafford if he does not start making a case for himself to start matches off his own back, rather than in rotation for the likes of Fernandes and Eriksen. He’s a bright talent and perhaps Ten Hag can start together the best from him again. ★★★★★★★
Alejandro Garnacho: Replaced Antony 65′. The Spanish-born Argentinian made a massive improvement from his performance against Burnley in the Carabao Cup at Old Trafford last week. He scored United’s last goal prior to the World Cup, not ending up being selected for the Argentina team who ended up lifting the trophy. He was booked in the second half but maintained his ability both on and off the ball. He’s a player that will make it at United. ★★★★★★★
Harry Maguire: Replaced Varane 77′. Came off the bench in his first involvement since the World Cup. He could have made an appearance against Burnley in the Carabao Cup last week but missed the match through illness, which he seemingly overcame ahead of this match. Lindelof was absent for this match too through illness, so it was good he was back to add an experienced player on the bench. Martinez could be back soon too. ★★★★★★
Fred: Replaced Eriksen 77′. Scored his second goal of the season ten minutes after coming on – played in by Casemiro and finishing well, beating Hennessey easily. United already had the game in the bag but this goal made it much better, raising United’s goal difference at the same time, which was now +3 after being zero before the match. Fred may not get many minutes this season, starting sparingly, but it is clear that he has something to offer United. ★★★★★★
Anthony Elanga: Replaced Rashford 86′. The player linked with a loan move to Everton in January came on for a late cameo replacing the player who has scored a goal and an assist. His pace can be frightening at times but other than that, the Swede will need to find more development to make it at United, which for me seems unlikely as I don’t think he has the ingredients to keep the liked of Rashford, Martial, Sancho, Antony or Garnacho out of the team. ★★★★★
Goals: Marcus Rashford 19′, Anthony Martial 22′, Fred 87′
Assists: Christian Eriksen 19′, Marcus Rashford 22′, Casemiro 87′
Manchester United: De Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Varane (Maguire 77′), Shaw, Malacia; Casemiro, Eriksen (Fred 77′); Antony (Garnacho 65′), Fernandes, Rashford (Elanga 86′); Martial (van de Beek 65′)
Substitutes Not Used: Heaton; Williams, Bennett; Iqbal
Bookings: Tyrell Malacia 27′, Christian Eriksen 74′, Alejandro Garnacho 83′; Orel Mangala 29′
Written by John Walker