Second against third at the top of the Premier League was the Saturday evening clash this weekend, but few expected that to be the case when the fixture list pitted Manchester United up against Hull City in the third game of the season.
Victory over the reigning champions and Swansea weren’t expected when Mike Phelan led his injur depleted side into their return to top flight return, but whilst expectations were low, hopes were high for the visit of megabucks Manchester United boasting the likes of Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
In a game of few chances, neither side looked particularly likely to break the deadlock until Marcus Rashford’s injury time winner. With 29 shots by the Red Devils, the Tigers had almost done enough to hold out for a draw, but Rashford made the difference at the death to spark wild celebrations, with one fan even breaking his leg in the process.
Here is what we have learnt from the tie…
Marcus Rashford still has a role to play at Old Trafford
Entering the game as a 71st minute replacement for Juan Mata, Rashford turned the game around and was decisive in scoring the matchwinning goal in the second minute of injury time. Despite competition from Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Anthony Martial and Wayne Rooney, all of whom are seemingly ahead of him in the pecking order, Rashford gave a solid account for himself at the KC Stadium.
Dropped to the England under 21 squad in midweek, there had been fears under how much football Rashford would get under Mourinho’s management given the Portuguese manager’s track record of developing young players. In fact, this was the youngster’s first appearance of the season, and first under Mourinho, and the manager confessed after the game that it was the 18-year-old who made the difference.
With an 89% pass completion rate and one chance created in just 19 minutes, Rashford clearly had a major impact on the game as his pace threatened against a tired Hull back line. Offering a hugely different threat to that of the more physical Zlatan Ibrahimovic, it was Rashford’s poachers instinct which made the bingest impact and secured the three points.
Hull should not be written off just yet
Mike Phelan has done a remarkable job to secure six points from his opening two games as caretaker manager at Hull City. A player, coach and assistant manager at today’s opponents for most of his career, Phelan’s greatest achievement to date could in fact be at the KC Stadium if his side can maintain anything like their current run of form.
With a number of injuries and few transfer arrivals, it has been a tough summer both on and off the field for the club, and many expected them to be swept aside by Leicester City on the opening day, but they have stood firm and came so close to denying the Red Devils too. They have proven now that it is too early to write off the Tigers as relegation certs.
Things could be on the up though, with reports suggesting that a £5 million bid for Cardiff goalkeeper David Marshall has been accepted, but Eldin Jakupovic was on form to keep the United attack at bay. Whilst we are only three games in, with a few such additions, the Tigers could prove their doubters wrong.
Money spent does not necessarily equal goals
With 29 shots, only nine of which were on target, Mourinho could quite rightly be disappointed that none were converted until the 92nd minute. Stars Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic both flattered to deceive, with Ibrahimovic’s header grazing the crossbar in the only real chance that either had to affect the score line.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic had a total of four shots on goal, none on target. £90 million Paul Pogba managed six attempts, but only one on target. £26 million Henrikh Mkhitaryan had four shots, with two on target in 29 minutes. Last summer’s £60 million man Anthony Martial only managed one shot, off target. Academy product Marcus Rashford managed three shots, two on target, in 19 minutes, including the winning goal.
Whilst it is to be expected that Mourinho’s new signings will take him to adapt and gel, ties against sides like Hull City should be a piece of cake for players who have proven to be some of the best players in the world at the very highest level.
Featured Image: All rights reserved by Dom Fellowes.