Manch­ester United let lead slip af­ter thrilling come­back

Evening Times - - SPORT -

MANCH­ESTER UNITED man­ager Ole Gun­nar Sol­sk­jaer thinks his young team will have learned some valu­able lessons af­ter they bat­tled back to earn a 3-3 draw against Sh­effield United.

The vis­i­tors were abysmal in the first half at Bra­mall Lane and were for­tune to only be be­hind to John Fleck’s strike.

Sol­sk­jaer ad­mit­ted he was an­gry at half-time and his mood would not have im­proved when Lys Mous­set dou­bled the hosts’ lead early in the sec­ond half.

How­ever, the Nor­we­gian took some com­fort from a sparkling seven-minute spell his side pro­duced to turn the game on its head as goals from Bran­don Wil­liams, Ma­son Green­wood and Mar­cus Rash­ford had Manch­ester United in front with 79 min­utes on the clock.

Sol­sk­jaer was de­nied a sixth vic­tory in the last seven matches by Oliver McBurnie’s last-minute equaliser but he be­lieves he and his play­ers can take some pos­i­tives from what had been a dire sit­u­a­tion.

“It was a very poor per­for­mance. I’m think­ing back to Ever­ton last sea­son – that team gave up and this team didn’t. So when we turned it around it’s a great re­sponse to get from the boys,” said the United boss.

“We did play badly in the first half. We didn’t win any chal­lenges, we weren’t first to the ball, we didn’t stick to what we had planned. I could have changed all the play­ers at half­time, ex­cept David [De Gea] as he kept us in it.”

Sh­effield United took the game to their vis­i­tors in the early stages, forc­ing De Gea into a spec­tac­u­lar double save be­fore even­tu­ally break­ing the dead­lock in the 19th minute.

Mous­set out­mus­cled Phil Jones on the right flank and cut the ball back for John Lundstram. His shot was saved but Fleck was on hand to bun­dle in and spark ju­bi­la­tion in the home end.

Fleck then turned provider as the home side in­creased their ad­van­tage seven min­utes af­ter the break.

A lovely through-ball from the Scot found Mous­set in the mid­dle of Manch­ester United’s half and he marched for­ward be­fore send­ing a low drive into the bot­tom corner of De Gea’s net from 25 yards.

Manch­ester United turned the game on its head as three quick­fire goals from their acad­emy grad­u­ates put them 3-2 up. Wil­liams scored his first goal for the club in the 72nd minute be­fore sub­sti­tute Green­wood con­nected with a su­perb Rash­ford cross five min­utes later to level things up.

And Rash­ford put the vis­i­tors in front with a goal of his own two min­utes later.

How­ever, the home side earned a point with a stop­page-time goal from sub­sti­tute Oli McBurnie, af­ter a VAR re­view.

“You don’t ex­pect them to give up, but last year we did. To­day we didn’t,” Sol­sk­jaer added. “Even though the big part of this game is a neg­a­tive and we are dis­ap­pointed with it, the over­rid­ing feel­ing is a pos­i­tive be­cause of the char­ac­ter to stick in there and turn it around.

“But the boys will have learned a les­son from the 71st minute to the 90th, or when­ever they scored. You must re­mem­ber that these play­ers are young. The first goal gave them be­lief.

“It’s not de­sire in terms of the word de­sire, maybe it’s con­fi­dence in them­selves. I don’t doubt them want­ing to win, some­times young play­ers don’t really know how to win chal­lenges like this and we must have learned a lot to­day, I’m sure we have.”

Sh­effield United boss Chris Wilder was left to rue the sev­en­minute spell that turned the match in the vis­i­tors’ favour. How­ever, he was also pleased with the way his team re­sponded to that dis­ap­point­ment by strik­ing back to earn a point.

Wilder said: “Can we for­get about that pe­riod, please? We just dropped off our en­ergy lev­els. The old say­ing ‘2-0 is a dan­ger­ous score­line’ turned into ‘oops, we’re 3-2 down’.

“And you’ve got to give them credit, just as you have us with the way we fought our­selves back at the death to get our­selves some­thing out of the game.

“It just flicked a switch for them when they got back into the game at 2-1, with what, from our point of view, is a goal out of noth­ing.

“No dis­re­spect to the level we have come from, but we are talk­ing Daniel James, Anthony Mar­tial and Mar­cus Rash­ford and when they say yes, which they did, then the mo­men­tum and the score­line dra­mat­i­cally changed.

“I would have been really dis­ap­pointed had we not got any­thing from this game be­cause for the ma­jor­ity of the time we were right up there in terms of the per­for­mance lev­els.”

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