The Erik ten Hag era was launched by Manchester United deserving 2-1 victory over Liverpool at Old Trafford, which left their opponents winless after three Premier League games.
Following a string of defeats to start the season, Ten Hag decided to bench Cristiano Ronaldo and Harry Maguire; this move was rewarded with a significantly improved performance.
After 16 minutes, Sancho smoothly slid the ball past Alisson after a brilliant move, and Liverpool gave up the opening goal for a club-record seventh straight Premier League game.
Marcus Rashford’s early second-half strike gave United breathing room before Mohamed Salah’s late header, which was only a minor consolation.
In stark contrast to their 4-0 defeat at Brentford, the hosts played much better in the first half, with Anthony Elanga, who was started in place of Ronaldo, hitting the post with only Alisson to beat.
Soon after, Sancho intercepted Elanga’s pass, used a dummy to trick Alisson and James Milner, and scored United’s first goal with his first shot on goal.
Despite having trouble getting going, Liverpool came dangerously close to tying the score before halftime when Bruno Fernandes botched a clearing that struck Lisandro Martinez right on the goal line.
Old Trafford was rocking as Rashford was sent in on the break by halftime substitute Anthony Martial for United’s second goal, amid fears of a walkout in opposition to the club’s owners.
Alisson made a strong save to prevent Rashford from scoring again, and David de Gea stopped Luis Diaz and Roberto Firmino before Salah nodded in after United failed to handle a corner.
The home team hung on for a significant victory despite some late pressure from Liverpool, and it may have been fortunate that Fernandes was not sent off after a scuffle following Salah’s score.
Why does that matter? United take off while the Reds remain winless.
At the beginning of the season, Liverpool would have loved nothing more than to hand United their third straight league loss – the fourth time in club history.
However, by the end of the game on Monday, the Reds had become the go-to crisis team.
Even while Salah did set up a tenseer-than-expected finish to the game, the Reds disappointed in attack and were hampered by a series of clumsy mistakes in midfield and defense.
However, United deserves praise for taking advantage of those flaws, leaving Liverpool with two out of a potential nine points after being winless in their first three Premier League games for the first time since 2012–13.
It was a bold move by Ten Hag to bench Ronaldo for the second time in three games this season, but his choice was amply vindicated by the time the 95th minute rolled around courtesy to goals from Sancho and Rashford.
Rashford stood out as a major threat throughout the match and tried a game-high five shots, including the goal that ended United’s 997-minute goalless streak across all competitions with a well-placed strike.
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