Following the loss at Wembley, Jose Mourinho would have been hoping his side can quickly bounce back to keep them ahead of the chasing pack for the final three spots in the top four. The Portuguese manager conceded after the Tottenham game that they could no longer catch Manchester City and the emphasis was now on keeping a top four position and going as far as possible in the Champions League.
There were four changes from that side which lost 2-0 during the week including for the first time this season Paul Pogba. De Gea played his 300th game for Manchester United behind a defence of Valencia, Smalling, Rojo and Shaw. Pogba’s place was taken by the youngster Scott McTominay alongside Nemanja Matic. Juan Mata stepped in for Anthony Martial in an attacking trio of Lingard and Sanchez and as usual the striker was Lukaku.
Huddersfield Town got the game underway and hoped to cause another upset similar to their first Premier League meeting in October last year. The Yorkshire side desperately needed to take away something from this game as they occupy the second of three relegation spots.
The first chance of the game came seven minutes in as Lingard surged through the Huddersfield defence. He drove a powerful shot towards the bottom left hand corner but Lossl got down well to stop it. United were moving the ball well but were struggling to break down a deep lying opposition.
Huddersfield were standing strong and keeping United at bay but were conceding a few fouls in the process. Two free kicks on the right hand side of the pitch were taken by Mata and both times the high defensive line utterly failed, yet the Huddersfield players seemed bewildered that the linesman doesn’t call offside.
In the second of those free kicks Scott McTominay headed the ball towards goal and was completely taken out in a late challenge by Kongolo, who had no real chance of getting to the ball first. The referee didn’t call the foul even with a perfect view of the challenge. Kongolo was very lucky to not have conceded a penalty there.
The dangerous defending continued as Billing took out Rojo to receive the first yellow card of the game. Manchester United were totally in control of the game with 82 per cent possession in the opening 25 minutes and mistakes were starting to seep into the away side. Moments later Mata receives a yellow card for an equally poor challenge.
Despite this possession, United had only created a few minor chances. Their decision to try and penetrate the centre of the defence had caused them a few problems with that area of the pitch being very congested. One touch passing was needed to cut through the well-drilled defence and United couldn’t move the ball quick enough.
In the last minute of the half Sánchez received a yellow card for a fairly tame tackle. His cause wasn’t helped however when he approached the Huddersfield player then walked away as the referee tried to talk to him. His frustration was most likely stemming from the lack of end product from his team. He would have been hoping that changed in the second half.
United almost scored a goal immediately in the second half. Sánchez and Lukaku link up brilliant to put the Chilean through on goal. His shot would have certainly gone in if it wasn’t for a fantastic block by Smith. Seconds later, though, Smith got a yellow card for hacking Sánchez down.
With every Red Devil’s attack the Huddersfield players seemed to defend with ever increasing desperation. They were struggling to keep United at bay to the same extent they did in the first half and it felt like a goal was imminent.
And just like that Manchester United went ahead. Matic passed the ball out to Mata on the wing who was given a lot of space and time to pick his cross. That cross was met on the volley by the left foot of Lukaku and the ball went into the bottom right hand corner. Mourinho would have been happy with his team’s intensity in the second half.
Yet another yellow card for Huddersfield, this time it was Hogg for taking Lingard out. They need to be careful with these clumsy challenges, especially with the abundance of talent sitting on the United bench. The first of those makes their way onto the pitch slightly after the hour mark with Paul Pogba taking the place of Jesse Lingard.
Hefele, who came onto the pitch not long ago, got a yellow card for a challenge on Sánchez. The Chilean has been on the receiving end of several fouls this afternoon. He’ll be hoping to take revenge by scoring a goal on this his home debut for the club.
Not even five minutes later Hefele, already on a yellow card, took out Sánchez again to concede a penalty. He is incredibly lucky to stay on the pitch and Sánchez immediately picked up the ball and headed to the spot. In front of the Stetford end, it seems like destiny. He fires the shot to the bottom right hand corner and Lossl saves it. Sadly for the keeper the ball rebounded straight into the path of Sánchez who makes it 2-0 to United.
The second Manchester United substitution saw Juan Mata come off for Rashford. Mata has had a fantastic game in the fluid attacking midfield trio most notably assisting the first goal. Lukaku made way not long after for Martial, Mourinho making sure all of his attackers get game time.
The game wound down in the final few minutes and the players would have been happy with their performances. Huddersfield need a quick change of fortune to stop them from plummeting back to the Championship. United’s next game is away at Newcastle and Huddersfield’s is at home to Bournemouth.