Manchester United’s impressive start to the 2020/21 Champions League group stage continued on Wednesday evening as they stormed to an emphatic 5-0 win over RB Leipzig at Old Trafford.
Mason Greenwood’s first half goal gave United a deserved lead, but it was the introduction of Marcus Rashford after the break that really changed the game. The Englishman netted three goals in 16 minutes, with Anthony Martial also netting a penalty amid all the fun.
Here’s what manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had to say after the game.
Greenwood’s goal came from his first shot in the Champions League (!), as he beat the offside trap to finish off a delightful pass from Paul Pogba.
“He normally does that with his first shots, he’s so efficient in front of goal – a great finisher and I’m very pleased for him. His timing of his run, a good pass from Paul. I wasn’t sure if he was on or off, it was so tight this call by the referee and we were on the lucky side today,” the boss told the club’s official website).
“We have to be [ruthless] in games like this. You play against a semi-finalist last season in the Champions League, just a couple of months ago, and you’re not going to get too many chances and if you get one or two, of course they open up and the spaces appear for us and we had done the hard work by then.”
Donny van de Beek’s lack of minutes since joining from Ajax in the summer has been a real talking point this season, but the Dutchman was given the nod from the start against Leipzig and put in an impressive shift.
“Donny is a fantastic player and a fantastic boy and you see the work he puts down, both on and off the ball. You see the defensive shape with him, he covers the ground, he’s so clever with his movement.
“I think we have an abundance of good midfielders at the club but I don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves today. The work off the ball was incredible from all four of them. That’s the basis of the team. If you work and work and win the ball in good situations to create chances. Fred covered every single blade of grass on that pitch. I just hope he recovers for the next one. The squad is good and gives us options – 4-3-3, a diamond, 4-2-1-3 or whatever we want to call it.”
“We defended really well and that’s very important when you win the ball back, but then when you have it they are so quick to counter-press you. They are so energetic. [In the] first half, it was hard to play through the press, but we kept at it. The boys never didn’t want the ball; they always wanted it in tight situations and that pays dividends in the second half when you play, spaces open up and in the end you win by a comfortable margin in a very difficult game.
”We work on our consistency of course. Every player knows he have hard work and graft and that’s the key. Suddenly, we’re running and we’ve got players who are fitter, stronger and sharper. For me, the consistency has been there since February. It has been getting better and better.
“The first league game was very disappointing and there were the circumstances with the Tottenham defeat. We’re getting there and today was a performance with a great attitude, hard work and working for each other. The squad was rotated and we’re in a really good state at the moment.“
After watching him bag a hat-trick, United legend Paul Scholes insisted (via The Telegraph) that Rashford should be aiming for 25 goals this season, but Solskjaer was quick to dismiss the idea of setting targets.
“Now is not the time to think about how many goals you’re going to end up with, just concentrate on the next job in hand. There’s one step at a time, if you get too far ahead of yourself you’re going to lose focus, Marcus has showed he can keep focusing on what’s important on and off the pitch at the moment.
“As a sub, coming on, sometimes that’s the best time to come on when your team is winning, there are spaces everywhere and Marcus took his chances incredibly well.”