Manchester United and Leeds United, historically two of English football’s fiercest rivals, battled to a 2-2 draw in Manchester, early Thursday morning in Manila.
It has been a tale of two cities for quite some time for two of the most prestigious clubs in England. Manchester United has won 44 trophies in its illustrious history while Leeds United has five.
Most of Man United’s wins came during Leeds’ 16 year absence from the English top flight that started in the 2003-2004 season.
It only made Leeds’ return to the Premier League in 2021 even more highly anticipated, hostilities soon resumed.
The disparity between the two clubs’ level of play is still apparent, with Man United fighting for Champions League places at the moment, while Leeds is trying to avoid relegation again with only a number of goals scored to separate them from the bottom three.
So this was a more important game for Leeds United than it was for their northern rivals.
Another epic battle
Leeds started quickly with a goal in the first minute from its Italian forward Degnand Wilfried Gnonto.
Stiker Patrick Branford, who just recently returned from injury, laid the ball inside the penalty box for Gnonto, who took one touch and struck the ball true, beating David De Gea on goal.
After that, the match was off and running with the intensity up a notch at Old Trafford, which saw the Leeds team trying to get its season back on track after the sacking of its American manager Jesse Marsch this week.
Leeds would then double its lead from a cutback from forward Crysencio Summerville. It took an unlucky deflection from veteran French center back Raphael Varane that went straight to goal.
It seemed all was lost for Man United, but the fighting spirit the club is known for, and which was lacking before new manager Eric Ten Hag, took over and came back recently.
Man U made sure this spirit was on full display for their fans. Marcus Rashford headed a goal from a cross that came from the right side in the 62nd minute.
Leeds almost scored a goal back after American Brenden Aaronson hit the post from a free kick outside the penalty box.
Much maligned forward Jadon Sancho, though, quieted the critics temporarily by completing the comeback with a sublime goal in the 70th minute.
There was frantic activity in the Leeds box in the final seconds for a winning goal from United, but it was snuffed quickly by an alert Illan Meslier, who grabbed the loose ball while dropping to the pitch as time ran out.
Manchester United will meet Leeds United again this Sunday at 10pm (Manila time).