Manchester United produced their best performance under Ralf Rangnick with a much improved showing – particularly in the second half – as we showed grit and then guile on our visit to Brentford for 75 years.
United turned on the style – and the power – after the interval with goals from Anthony Elanga, Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford to move to within two points of Saturday’s opponents West Ham, with the Reds having a game in hand.
Here is how each Red rated at the Brentford Community Stadium:
David de Gea – 8
Had nothing to do in the second half but produced three superb stops in a compelling duel with Mathias Jensen during a first half in which United could well have gone under.
Diogo Dalot – 9
A magnificent performance from a player now indisputably first choice under Rangnick. Excellent going forward and won everything down his flank. Quick, strong, composed and stylish. Immense. Aaron Wan – Bissaka’s never getting his place back on this evidence.
Victor Lindelof – 6
Given a rough ride by Ivan Toney, the Bees striker buzzed around the Swede all game. Lindelof looked ill at ease in the face of what, at times, represented an onslaught. Did better in the second half to keep the talismanic hitman at arm’s length
Raphael Varane – 9
Solid and dependable, Varane kept his head in the fire pit and never dropped his intensity. Good with and without the ball, it’s the simple stuff he does so well. A Rolls Royce of a player. Class.
Alex Telles – 6
Did nothing wrong but didn’t do anything spectacular either. With him on corners, is it any wonder we haven’t scored from one for about 5,000 years?
Scott McTominay – 8
Struggled at times under the Brentford press but grew into the game and was involved in the second goal when he won the ball high up the pitch. Industrial and energetic as usual, United’s midfield always looks better with him in it. Let’s hope his injury isn’t anything too serious.
Fred – 6
Did well at Villa but dropped off a little here. His passing was errant but he did well to pick the lock superbly for Anthony Elanga. Like so many, improved tenfold in the second half.
Mason Greenwood – 7
Drifted in and out of the game but his head never dropped and defied his critics to cap a sweeping team move with a tap in – his first league goal since mid October.
Bruno Fernandes – 7
Tried too hard at times but got on the ball more to pull the strings after the break and followed up his brace at Villa with two assists here. Ended the game up top and there are signs he’s returning to form.
Anthony Elanga – 7
All three goals were scored by Academy graduates and Elanga got the ball rolling with a nice finish for only his second ever senior goal. Rangnick seems to like him and he kept going despite some rough house treatment at times.
Cristiano Ronaldo – 6
Hit the bar and his magnificent chest play teed up Fernandes for the second. Got crowded out at times and had a temper tantrum when he got taken off.
Harry Maguire – for Ronaldo 71 – 6
Came on into a back three and did his job well to help United – unlike Saturday – see the game through.
Marcus Rashford – for Greenwood 71 – 7
Looked bright, looked lively and popped up with an excellently taken goal – his first since October. He needed that.
Nemanja Matic – for McTominay 84 – N/A
No time to make an impact.
Ralf Rangnick – 7
For as bad as we were in the first half, we were as good in the second. Tactical changes and substitutions paid dividends. His half-time words of wisdom clearly worked.