Erik ten Hag secured his first win as Manchester United manager as goals from Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford beat Liverpool 2-1 at Old Trafford on Monday.
United had started the weekend bottom of the Premier League, but moved above Liverpool on a massive night for their new Dutch manager.Liverpool’s expected title challenge is fading fast with Jurgen Klopp’s men yet to win three games into the new season.
United fans began the evening by marching on Old Trafford in protest at the decade of decline overseen by the club’s owners, the Glazer family.
A social media movement encouraging supporters to boycott the game in the wake of an embarrassing 4-0 defeat at Brentford last weekend failed to materialise.
But even amid the jubilation of a first league win over Liverpool since 2018, chants of “we want Glazers out” persisted throughout the 90 minutes.
•Manchester United’s English striker Marcus Rashford (R) celebrates in front of supporters after scoring their second goal during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Liverpool at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on August 22, 2022. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP)
Ten Hag responded to the concession of four goals inside 35 minutes at Brentford by dropping Cristiano Ronaldo and captain Harry Maguire among four changes.
After becoming the first United manager in more than a century to lose his first two games, the former Ajax manager got the response he desired in an explosive opening half hour that rocked Liverpool back on their heels.
Anthony Elanga should have opened the scoring when he curled off the base of the post after two passes from Scott McTominay and Bruno Fernandes carved Liverpool wide open.
Defensive disorganisation has been a repeated failing of Liverpool’s winless start to the season and they failed to learn their lesson for the opening goal on 16 minutes.
A neat one-two between Elanga and Christian Eriksen opened up the Liverpool defence once more and when the ball was cut back to Sancho, he left James Milner on the floor before coolly slotting home.
Milner bounced back up to confront Virgil Van Dijk for his role in the goal as the Dutch defender sat off Sancho.
Alisson Becker was then forced to tip Eriksen’s dipping free-kick over before the visitors were able to restore some order in the closing stages of the first half.
United nearly gifted them an equaliser when Fernandes blasted Milner’s header towards his own goal and was fortunate to see the ball rebound back off Lisandro Martinez on the line.
Liverpool’s reluctance to refresh Klopp’s midfield options will face more scrutiny in the final days of the transfer window.
With Thiago Alcantara and Naby Keita out injured, the 36-year-old Milner showed his age and Klopp had precious few options to turn to on the bench with new 75 million euro (£64 million, $77 million) striker Darwin Nunez serving the first of a three-match ban for being sent off on his home debut.
Liverpool’s lack of energy in midfield was exposed for United’s second goal as Jordan Henderson’s poor touch presented possession to Anthony Martial and his perfect through ball set Rashford free to score his first goal since January.
Restoring Rashford’s confidence is one of the many tasks that still lie ahead for Ten Hag.
But the England attacker looked more like his old self and only a fine save from Alisson low to his left denied Rashford his second and United’s third.
United goalkeeper David de Gea’s error opened the floodgates at Brentford but the Spaniard also played his part in a night of redemption with a point-blank save from Luis Diaz.
Mohamed Salah’s header set up a grandstand finish 10 minutes from time, but United summoned a steel rarely seen in recent seasons to see out the closing stages and secure a much-needed boost for their new boss. (AFP)
• Enugu State Commissioner for Youth and Sports, Barr. Lloyd Ekweremadu Jnr
…Says school sports to return
Enugu State Government is determined to see the state-owned football club, Rangers International, return to the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium for its home matches before the end of November, Commissioner for Youth and Sports, Barr. Lloyd Ekweremadu has reassured.
The commissioner gave the assurances while briefing Government House correspondents at the of the State Executive Council meeting, at the weekend.
He said that although the governor’s November deadline was tight, the Ministry was determined to ensure that the Flying Antelopes returned to the stadium, popularly known as The Cathedral, before November.
“The Executive Council was briefed on the issue of the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium and the expected return of our darling Rangers to play at our Cathedral and to generally bring the stadium back to effective use. We deliberated on the targets and steps being taken to meet set targets of the government.
“We are making progress. The turf, which is to be laid on the plain surface, is in Nigeria now. It has passed the very critical stage, which is Customs clearance, but there are a few other steps at the moment.
“Deadlines have been set and those deadlines are quite short and ambitious. But we are very optimistic and we know in fact that we will meet those targets and our goals. So, we are taking very proactive steps to ensure that we beat the target.
“The governor said in his 100 days in office speech that the stadium would be ready for use by November. But we are working round the clock to see that we even beat that time and deliver the stadium back to use in record time. And the Executive Council has resolved to put certain measures in place, which will ensure that we meet such targets.”
He added that creative and innovative steps were being taken, particularly with regards to sponsorship, to bring Rangers to the winning ways of old.
Speaking further, Ekweremadu Jr said measures were being put in place to revive school sports in the state.
He said: “Steps are being taken through collaborations amongst various ministries towards actualising His Excellency’s vision to bring back and revitalize school sports. Our plans include bringing inter-school sports back, to serve as an opportunity for talent discovery, to engage the youth positively and actively as well as keep them away from social vices, crime and the like”, he stated.
Tragedy struck on Tuesday after a Nigerian referee identified as Mustafa Coach 02, was killed by a lightening strike on a football pitch in Madalla Town, Suleja LGA of Niger State
Late Mustafa died during a friendly football match which was disrupted by heavy rainfall followed by thunder strikes.
The deceased, who was said to be a member of the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF), met his tragic death on Tuesday evening during the match played on the community’s school field in Madalla Town.
An eyewitness, Muhammed Musa, told Daily Trust that the match in which Suleja and Madalla youths participated, was on half time break around 5:20 pm when the incident happened.
“It was raining and all the footballers along with their fans were taken refuge inside the school’s classrooms. The referee along with his assistant (line man) rushed back to the field, demanding the players to join them.
“They were only at the centre of the pitch when the thunder struck. Two of them were rushed to a hospital, where Sulaiman was confirmed dead on arrival while his assistant was revived.”
A family member of the deceased, who simply gave his name as Ibrahim, said the the late Mustafa was buried Wednesday morning in Suleja town where he lived.