Rash­ford and Green­wood haul United out of third gear with late flour­ish

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport Football - By Sam Wal­lace at Ke­nil­worth Road

Mata 44 pen, Rash­ford 88, Green­wood 90+2

The best you could say for Ole Gun­nar Sol­sk­jaer is that it could have been so much worse for a Manch­ester United team still try­ing to gain their fit­ness in a race against time as the sea­son pro­gresses, while they try to keep pace with the rest of the Premier League.

As for the League Cup, United are into the fourth round af­ter vic­tory over a Lu­ton Town team who thought they de­served more on a warm evening at Ke­nil­worth Road, where United played with the in­ten­sity, at times, of an early pre-sea­son tour game. On Satur­day that was enough for Crys­tal Palace to seize the ini­tia­tive, al­though this time there was not quite the cut­ting edge about the Cham­pi­onship op­po­nents to take on a United side stuck in third gear.

For all the dif­fer­ence in their cir­cum­stances, there are cur­rently only eight league places be­tween Lu­ton, with two wins thus far in their Cham­pi­onship sea­son, and United with their one de­feat.

Nathan Jones’s side had a con­fi­dence that grew as the game pro­gressed and was then worn away as Sol­sk­jaer sent on Mar­cus Rash­ford, Bruno Fer­nan­des and Ma­son Green­wood, who be­tween them added two goals in the last five min­utes of the game.

It was the first goal for Green­wood since he was sent home from Eng­land’s Na­tions League trip to Ice­land and Den­mark this month and Sol­sk­jaer re­flected on the teenager’s progress later. The United man­ager says that he thinks Green­wood will one day de­velop into the ar­che­typal No9, al­beit less of a “bat­ter­ing ram” striker. “For him to be a No9 he needs to learn how to head the ball,” Sol­sk­jaer said. “And if he wants to do that he’s wel­come to come and prac­tise with me.”

There was one each for Rash­ford and Green­wood, to add to the penalty scored by Juan Mata just be­fore half-time. There were 10 changes from the start­ing United team who lost on Satur­day, with only Harry Maguire re­tain­ing his place.

There were nine changes to the Lu­ton team who beat a Derby County side fea­tur­ing Wayne Rooney. Lu­ton were play­ing their fifth game of the sea­son and they stayed in it un­til the last two min­utes of reg­u­la­tion time.

There was no doubt­ing United were pon­der­ous in at­tack against a Lu­ton side who try to pass the ball. Sol­sk­jaer’s side, which in­cluded a de­but for Dean Henderson, who made a good save with the score at 1-0, could not raise their tempo to dom­i­nate Lu­ton as might or­di­nar­ily have been ex­pected, al­though they were solid in de­fence.

There were good per­for­mances in the Lu­ton side, who have ar­guably a much big­ger game at Vicarage Road on Satur­day: the first Hert­ford­shire-Bed­ford­shire cla­sico in 14 years.

The young Ir­ish full-back Peter Kioso, and the more ex­pe­ri­enced Kazenga LuaLua both made in­roads at times. There was just a short­age of chances.

“I’m just proud of the [tac­ti­cal] struc­ture we showed and how we went about it,” Jones said. “We were play­ing in League Two three years ago. The 3-0 flat­ters United slightly. It looks like it was a com­fort­able win for them, but it was any­thing but.”

Lu­ton went in at half-time a goal be­hind to Mata’s penalty, clipped past goal­keeper James Shea af­ter Ge­orge Mon­cur tripped Brandon Wil­liams.

Up to then United had strug­gled to get in be­hind their op­po­nents. Lu­ton had at­tacked United, es­pe­cially Aaron Wan-Bis­saka down the right flank, where LuaLua got in be­hind.

Ryan Tunnicliff­e, once of United, played in front of the Lu­ton mid­field and of­fered an­other line of cover. There was one way­ward header from Eric Bailly that opened up some space for LuaLua.

“You can see we need match time,” Sol­sk­jaer said. Henderson had to deal with a dif­fer­ent chal­lenge: long pe­ri­ods of in­ac­tiv­ity and then a ma­jor save to make. Of Maguire, Sol­sk­jaer said: “Harry just needs to play to get sharp­ness and fit­ter. He never wants to rest.”

Henderson’s save came from de­fender Tom Lock­yer and then there was a clear­ance off the line from Bailly.

At that point Sol­sk­jaer made his sub­sti­tu­tions. Green­wood laid the ball off to Rash­ford for him to fin­ish just inside the box and then the United teenager bent the ball around Shea for the third goal.

It will have been a re­lief for Sol­sk­jaer, but much greater chal­lenges are ahead. United go to Brighton on Satur­day for a game they re­ally can­not af­ford to lose, and the sea­son is only just in its sec­ond week.

Lu­ton Town (4-1-4-1) Shea 6; Kioso 7, Lock­yer 7, Bradley 6, Nor­ring­ton-Davies 6; Tunnicliff­e 6; Clark 6 (Cor­nick 76), Shin­nie 6, Mon­cur 7 (Lee 76), Lualua 7; Hyl­ton 5. Subs Cranie, Parson, Sluga, Mpanzu, Collins. Booked Kioso, Hyl­ton.

Manch­ester United (4-2-3-1) Henderson 6; Wan-Bis­saka 6, Bailly 6, Maguire 7, Wil­liams 6; Fred 6, Matic 6; Mata 6 (Green­wood 78), Van de Beek 6 (Fer­nan­des 78), Lin­gard 6; Ighalo 6 (Rash­ford 79). Subs Grant, Dalot, James, Mengi. Booked Wil­liams.

Ref­eree Tim Robin­son (West Sus­sex).

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