Manchester United secured a hard-fought 1-0 win over Luton Town at Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon.
The underdog visitors sat deep in an attempt to frustrate United and were largely successful before Victor Lindelof fired home shortly before the hour mark to steer the Red Devils to a much-needed victory.
United did suffer throughout the game and lost both Christian Eriksen and Rasmus Hojlund to injury, further adding to Erik ten Hag’s headache.
How the game unfolded
Luton barely even touched the ball inside the first ten minutes but goalkeeper Thomas Kaminski made the most of his first involvement with an outstanding save to deny Hojlund from near point-blank range.
Scott McTominay headed over the bar five minutes later and it wasn’t long before Alejandro Garnacho and Bruno Fernandes blazed high as well, with United boasting close to 75% possession midway through the first half and looking like the only team likely to score.
United’s pressure was relentless but Luton stood firm in their defensive shape, and the visitors even had a chance to take the lead when Carlton Morris’ header drew an impressive save from Andre Onana.
Shortly before the interval, Garnacho failed to make the most of a great sight of goal, which largely summed up United’s first half. Erik ten Hag’s side were clearly on top but, aside from Hojlund’s first sight of goal, failed to ask any real questions of Kaminski.
The second half got off to a similar start as Hojlund sent a free header wide from a corner after just a few minutes.
The tension around Old Trafford began to build and so fans were ecstatic to see Lindelof rifle into the back of the net on the hour mark after some penalty box pinball.
Rashford struck straight at the grateful Kaminski as United searched for a second, before Fernandes saw a great chance blocked by Jordan Clark from inside the six-yard box.
Luton tried to get forward for an equaliser but simply could not get on the ball enough. United would knock on the door for the remainder of the game but ultimately had to settle for a 1-0 win.
GK: Andre Onana – 6/10 – Had a shaky pass out from the back in the first half but made up for it with a smart save to deny Morris.
RB: Diogo Dalot – 5/10 – United started off attacking down the right but quickly focused their efforts on the opposite wing, meaning Dalot was rarely involved.
CB: Harry Maguire – 7/10 – Rarely tested defensively but really impressed with the ball at his feet. Some glorious switches of play to try and make something happen.
CB: Victor Lindelof – 8/10 – Started off quiet but quickly grew into the game and was clearly inspired by his goal as he ended on a high.
LB: Sergio Reguilon – 6/10 – Some really intelligent movement to aid Garnacho but wasn’t strong enough on the ball. Guilty of crossing far too early.
DM: Scott McTominay – 5/10 – Not dynamic enough. Had to focus solely on trying to pass Luton into submission which simply isn’t his game. Not the right skillset for a match like this.
DM: Christian Eriksen – 6/10 – Kept things ticking before tweaking his knee and being forced off late in the first half.
RM: Marcus Rashford – 5/10 – You could see he was trying to get involved but everything Rashford did just didn’t work. United focused their efforts on the opposite wing when it became clear he wasn’t on it.
AM: Bruno Fernandes – 6/10 – Did his best to pull the strings and was at the heart of everything positive from United. Very sloppy in front of goal but some great passing made up for it.
LM: Alejandro Garnacho – 7/10 – United’s danger man. Garnacho looked lively and determined to get into the box every single time he got the ball. Luton struggled to contain him.
ST: Rasmus Hojlund – 6/10 – Got into some nice positions and was unfortunate not to open his Premier League account here. Forced off injured late on.
SUB: Mason Mount (40′ for Eriksen) – 6/10
SUB: Antony (68′ for Garnacho) – 6/10
SUB: Anthony Martial (78′ for Hojlund) – N/A
Subs not used: Altay Bayindir (GK), Raphael Varane, Sofyan Amrabat, Kobbie Mainoo, Hannibal Mejbri, Facundo Pellistri
Erik ten Hag – 6/10 – Perhaps could’ve gone a little more adventurous with his midfield but can’t really be faulted for that. Questions will be asked over his decision to ask Hojlund to play through a hamstring injury that forced him off the pitch two minutes later anyway.
GK: Thomas Kaminski – 7/10 – An outstanding save to deny Hojlund early on and remained focused to keep United at bay whenever they got through.
CB: Teden Mengi – 6/10 – A really entertaining battle with Garnacho. Incredibly busy but equally as efficient.
CB: Tom Lockyer – 7/10 – Sat deep and threw himself at everything to protect his goal. A little handsy with Maguire at times but escaped any punishment.
CB: Gabriel Osho – 7/10 – Kept Rashford very quiet and can be thoroughly satisfied with his afternoon’s work.
RM: Issa Kabore – 6/10 – A really tough task against Garnacho with mixed results. Might not have always won but held his own.
CM: Marvelous Nakamba – 6/10 – His job was to buzz around midfield as an extra body and he did exactly that. Not pretty but that’s not the point.
CM: Ross Barkley – 6/10 – A disciplined showing from Barkley, who looked somewhat dangerous on the rare occasions he got to try and make something happen.
LM: Alfie Doughty – 6/10 – Doubled up well to help keep Rashford quiet. An occasional threat on the counter as well but had to most of his work in his own third.
AM: Andros Townsend – 6/10 – Put himself about. Excellent work rate to help his side out defensively.
AM: Chiedozie Ogbene – 7/10 – Outstanding pressing from Ogbene. Didn’t stop running as he sought to put out fires all across the pitch, even as a forward.
ST: Carlton Morris – 5/10 – Very isolated. Obviously.
SUB: Tahith Chong (60′ for Townsend) – 6/10
SUB: Jordan Clark (72′ for Doughty) – 6/10
SUB: Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu (85′ for Kabore) – N/A
SUB: Ryan Giles (85′ for Ogbene) – N/A
SUB: Elijah Adebayo (85′ for Nakamba) – N/A
Subs not used: Tim Krul (GK), Zack Nelson, Luke Berry, Jacob Brown
Rob Edwards – 7/10 – Look, it wasn’t pretty at all, and Luton didn’t even get anything from the game, but Edwards set his side up how he needed to for a game like this. Unfortunate not to snatch a point.