Manchester United have lost their first game of the Premier League season, falling to Huddersfield Town 2-1. Two defensive mistakes in the first-half put United in an early hole, and a Rashford goal in the second half gave United hope, but they couldn’t find an equaliser.
United travelled to the John Smith’s Stadium for the first time in high spirits. A Champions League win in Benfica was a superb way to respond to the tough 0-0 draw at Anfield.
Mourinho had been forced to make even more changes to his starting XI due to injury and fatigue. The defensive 4 of Young, Smalling, Jones, and Valencia wasn’t surprising considering the injuries in those positions, and neither was Matic pairing Herrera Matic in the central of midfield. It was further forward where things got interesting. As Rashford picked up a knock vs Benfica, and Micky hadn’t been looking himself in recent games, both started the game on the bench. In came Martial and Jesse Lingard, with the Englishman making his first start of the season. Mata got the start in his favoured central attacking role, and Lukaku started in front of him.
United created the first chance of the game in the 5th minute. A Matic long ball found Lukaku in a bit of space, but the Belgians take effort was easily saved.
A hard tackle from Smith on Martial lead to the two going face to face, but the situation was calmed down by the ref, who gave a yellow card to both men.
Huddersfield could’ve had a chance from a whipped in free kick, but Lukaku defended the cross remarkably well.
A lovely piece of skill from Young on the wing got him past his marker, but his cross was headed away. Herrera went for the spectacular volley, but didn’t connect properly and the ball dribbled out of play.
United kept forcing the ball down the left, with Young putting in another quality cross. Lukaku went for a bicycle kick but couldn’t connect properly.
Huddersfield had a chance going forward but was stopped by a phenomenal tackle by Jones. Sadly, the tackle appeared to injure the Englishman who had started the season well, and he was forced to come on. Lindelof came on to replace him, looking to build on his promising Champions League performances.
The change hurt United soon after. A poor giveaway in the midfield from Mata kick-started a Huddersfield counter-attack lead by Mooy. The initial shot was saved by De Gea, but the rebound fell right to the Australian, who made no mistake the second time of asking.
The injury to Jones continued to hurt United as Lindelof made a massive mistake. He was unable to deal with a longball, and Huddersfield striker Depoitre was through on goal. He rounded De Gea, and passed the ball into the empty net. 2-0 to Huddersfield, and the home fans were in dreamland.
De Gea almost got caught will the ball at his feet after a pass back bounced awkwardly, but the goalkeeper exquisitely dinked the ball over the Huddersfield attacker, and cleared it away. It was a rare highlight in a very poor first half.
United were then robbed of a penalty. Herrera was taken out by Kachunga in the penalty area, but the referee didn’t blow his whistle. It was a stonewall penalty in the eyes of the commentators, and United won’t be happy with the decision.
Man U carved out some half chances late into the half, but the Huddersfield defense were able to block any shot taken. All in all, it was a disastrous first half performance from the Red Devils.
Mkhitaryan and Rashford came on for Mata and Martial, which was an odd decision considering the fact United needed at least 2 goals.
United created their first decent chance when Young whipped in a cross to the near post. Herrera won the header, but the Huddersfield keeper made a solid save, and the rebound was cleared away.
United finally got onto the scoresheet, and the goal admittedly came against the run of play. Lukaku was played down the wing into space. He picked up the ball, cut inside and whipped in a peach of a cross to the back post. Rashford was unmarked, and made no mistake with the header to grab United a goal.
United kept knocking on the Huddersfield door, but couldn’t find a way through the compact defence.
United had one final chance in the closing stages, but couldn’t find the equalising goal. A long ball fell to the feet of Smalling in the penalty area. The defender did very well to bring the ball down and get a shot off, but it was heroically blocked away by a Huddersfield defender. One final clearance later, and the whistle for full time was blown.
On the day, the Red Devils simply weren’t good enough. This wasn’t like most United games last year, where United created plenty of chances but couldn’t score. Instead, the Red Devils were useless going forward. Sideways pass after sideways pass lead to nothing, as Huddersfield sat back and allowed Mourinho’s side all the possession they wanted.
This result keeps United at 2nd place, but they are now 5 points behind Manchester City in the race for the top spot in the league.
Manchester United travel to Swansea midweek in Carabao Cup action.