Second-half goals from substitutes Fred and Anthony Elanga earned Manchester United a 4-2 victory over Leeds United in a thriller at Elland Road in the Premier League on Sunday.
In a red-hot atmosphere, the visitors took the lead in the 34th minute, with captain Harry Maguire heading home to score his side’s first league goal from a corner all season.
As the rain became more torrential, United compounded the home side’s woes when Bruno Fernandes, who scored a hat-trick in the reverse fixture earlier this season, squeezed another header into the net in first-half stoppage time.
But keeping hold of half-time leads has been one of United’s problem of late, having failed to win when leading at the break in three of their previous four matches in all competitions.
And so it proved again as Leeds turned the match on its head with two goals in less than a minute early in the second half.
First Spanish forward Rodrigo’s cross looped over United stopper David de Gea and into the net, and then Dan James squared for Leeds substitute Raphinha to level, lifting the roof off the stadium.
The visitors rode the storm, however, and eventually got their reward as Fred put his side in front 20 minutes from time before Elanga settled the contest with a late fourth.
The result moved fourth-placed United onto 46 points, four behind Chelsea in third, while Leeds stay 15th, five points above the relegation zone.
“We had to fight back and stick together, we knew it was a tough place to come but we knew we had qualities and could hurt them,” Maguire told Sky Sports.
“We said at half time we needed to score more in the second half and we managed to do that.”
Taking on their rivals from across the border in Lancashire and Greater Manchester for the first time in front of fans at Elland Road in the Premier League in 19 years, Leeds started well and went close through Jack Harrison early on.
As the atmosphere calmed somewhat, French midfielder Paul Pogba danced past Adam Forshaw, squared for Cristiano Ronaldo, who looked certain to score from just a few metres out, but Leeds goalkeeper Illan Meslier got across to make a fine save.
United continued to grow into the match, and deservedly took the lead as Maguire climbed highest to head home United’s first league goal from a corner since April 2021.
The goal that put United further in front was a fine move from one end of the pitch to the other, with Jadon Sancho, clipping the ball onto the head of Fernandes for his ninth league goal of the season.
There was an element of luck about Leeds’ first from Rodrigo, but United’s defending left much to be desired as Leeds scored their second.
The volume levels shot up as the home side sensed a famous victory. But their leaky defence – only Norwich City have conceded more this season in the Premier League – was carved open again on the counter, with Sancho the provider for Fred, who lashed home his third league goal of the campaign.
Academy graduate Elanga, who seemed to be hit by something from the crowd when celebrating Fred’s goal, slotted in his second Premier League goal, on the end of another Sancho pass, to seal Leeds’ fate.
“After we got back level we had the chance to go 3-2 up and straightaway they went up and scored again,” Leeds coach Marcelo Bielsa said.
“We played better trying to get back into the game than when we were trying to keep a result. We have to defend better.”