Ole’s side labour before strikes at death
ON a laboured night, a familiar friend came to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s aid.
The penalty spot – a rich source of comfort in Manchester United’s trail of near misses with trophies last season – got their season up and running in the EFL Cup, with Juan Mata doing the honours on 44 minutes. The corrugated jungle of Kenilworth
Rashford hits the second for United and Greenwood gets plaudits after he nets
Road, which has changed little bird on its perch. And after his since United were last here 28 undercooked side’s openingyears ago, has not always been day blow- out against Crystal kind to the Red Devils. . Palace, manager Solskjaer In 1985, Ron on
coum could mishaps. ill- afford any more Atkinson’s side e swaggered into town For goalkeeper Dean on the back of Henderson, left, there 10 consecutive wins, was a first outing for dropped their first t h his parent club after points of the season n un unfurling an impressive and never recovered from rom case on loan at Sheffield the bubble bursting, trailing United. Henderson was spared home 12 points below the Liver a busier night by Luton’s lack of end product to go with their abundant promise, and although United did not play like strangers in the night – skipper Harry Maguire was the only survivor of the Palace debacle – they often struggled to make headway.
For 44 minutes United were not incisive enough, not creative enough.
Odion Ighalo was bullied by the towering Sonny Bradley, Jesse Lingard reminded us again
of the bright future behind him while £ 40million Donny van de Beek will surely shine on bigger stages. Brandon Williams was tripped by George Moncur, Mata tucked away the penalty and United led against the run of play a minute before the break. United won 21 penalties in all competitions in the protracted 2019- 20 season – more than any other club in
Europe’s top five leagues. No need for any conspiracy theories about their first one of a new term. But every time the Sky Sports cameras picked out Solskjaer in the stands, he looked suitably concerned.
United’s dressing room for the night was a bar concourse, and this was another performance to make you reach for the beer taps.
Ten changes or not, Solskjaer put out a strong team. Take nothing away from Luton, who were dynamic for long spells, but United should not just have been putting them to bed, they should have been laundering the sheets and airing the duvets for them, too.
It was fortunate then that the final scoreline was given a hefty coat of gloss when substitute Marcus Rashford struck three minutes from time before Mason Greenwood made it 3- 0 in stoppage time.