July 25, 2024

Pathfinder News

redefining news

Old Trafford:Manchester United Pip Luton 1-0

Manchester United secured a much-needed victory over Luton at Old Trafford to ease the pressure on manager Erik ten Hag.

A rare goal from Sweden defender Victor Lindelof, his first since December 2020, proved enough to reward the hosts’ dominance.

It should have been more, with Rasmus Hojlund, Marcus Rashford and Alejandro Garnacho all guilty of wasting excellent opportunities.

But a second successive clean sheet, for the first time this season, helped secure the points to please Ten Hag, less so the injury that forced star striker Hojlund off 11 minutes from time.

That is four Premier League wins out of five games for United though, even if their cup form – at home and abroad – has not been as good.

It also means they head into a potentially significant international break on a positive note given it could bring confirmation of an addition to the United ownership in the form of Ineos owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe.

Big Sam’s unfortunate reaction

On his return to the directors’ box for the first time since the death of his wife, Lady Cathy, Sir Alex Ferguson was accompanied by his friend and former managerial rival Sam Allardyce.

Midway through the first half, the TV cameras panned to the pair, just as Allardyce committed to a lengthy yawn. It was an unfortunate reaction that didn’t reflect play.

The home side had done most things right as they dominated proceedings without finding the goal they so desperately needed.

Rashford, one goal all season, blazed a half-volley over from an angle. Hojlund, no Premier League goals yet, got his knee to a deflected Rashford cross but couldn’t get any strength behind it to take it past Thomas Kaminski, who kept the initial effort out with his chest and then scooped the ball away before a home player could prod the rebound in.

Later in the half, Hojlund found Garnacho in lots of space on the edge of the Luton box but the Argentine’s decision to control rather than shoot first time was fatal as it gave Kaminski chance to close him down and the opportunity was gone.

United continued in the same positive manner during the second half.

But aside from Lindelof’s goal, driven home after Rashford’s off-target shot from the calm Mason Mount pass that set him up, they struggled in front of goal.

Rashford hit another effort straight at Kaminski, who also repelled Scott McTominay’s near-post header.

It left United vulnerable, but Luton lacked the touch of class to make them pay.

Another Old Trafford defeat for Luton

Allardyce would presumably have approved of the direct manner of Luton’s only significant opening of the first half as Carlton Morris rose impressively to meet Issa Kabore’s right-wing cross, forcing Andre Onana into a full length save to his left.

He would have been less forgiving of the Hatters in the second half, when Ross Barkley wasted a free-kick in an excellent position and former United defender Teden Mengi sent their only shot on target straight at Onana.

That is 19 straight away defeats at United for Luton now, going back to the 19th century, but these are not the games on which their Premier League future will be decided.

There is still an element of ‘pinch me, look where we are’ about the club whose last visit to this stadium was in 1991.

And for 30-year-old midfielder Jordan Clark, whose CV includes a loan spell at nearby non-league club Hyde, a top-flight debut as a second-half substitute must feel very satisfying.