A terrific performance from Manchester United saw them take control of Group H, their goals coming from Marcus Rashford, who scored a 30-minute hat-trick on as sub, Mason Greenwood and Anthony Martial. Two wins in the double-header against Istanbul Basaksehir, and United are into the last 16.
United started the game well, first to the ball and using it well, so the lead they took on 21 minutes was well earned. And it was well constructed too, Fred winning the ball and finding Paul Pogba, who slid Greenwood through to administer yet another sensational finish.
Roused, Leipzig improved thereafter but created little in the period either side of half-time - David de Gea made two decent but routine saves - and then on 60 and 68 minutes respectively, United sent on Rashford and Bruno Fernandes,and the effect was devastating. On 74 minutes, Fernandes sent Rashford through and though Leipzig played for offside, his run had started inside his own half, and he finished superbly.
Four minutes later, Rashford scored again then, with three minutes remaining, Martial won and converted a penalty, allowed by Fernandes and Rashford, both of whom had better claims on the ball, to open his account for the season. As Rashford knows, kindness is its own reward, but the cosmos rewarded him nonetheless, Martial returning the favour with the pass that allowed him to hammer home his third.
In the end, Leipzig did well to get away with 5-0, and United are almost in the knockouts. Not one team in Europe will fancy encountering them there.
Manchester United are an extremely strange concoction, capable of some of the best and the absolute worst football imaginable. Because their top level is a decent level and because they have some ridiculous attacking talent, absolutely devastating Leipzig tonight, they are good enough to beat any team on a good day. What they need to do now is work out how to win on a bad day.
And they are getting better in that aspect. The team spirit is evident and the way they defend, not just as individuals but as a team, has improved markedly since their thrashing by Spurs, but though Victor Lindelof has done well recently, his partnership with Harry Maguire will forever be suspect because neither can run. As such, the sooner Ole Gunnar Solskjaer can sneak in Axel Tuanzebe the better, because he has pace, strength, nous and ability on the ball - the complete package, if he can stay fit.
In front of them, the diamond formation looks a decent option, giving them numbers and legs in defence and attack. You wonder if, at some point, the defence will be strong enough to tolerate Fred or McTominay at its base with Paul Pogba, Donny Van de Beek and Bruno Fernandes occupying the other roles, but regardless of the combination, whichever pair United choose from their roster of strikers is a difficult night for any team in the world. They are far from perfect, but they are very close to being very decent.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Marcus Rashford (Man United) For a long time this was going to be Aaron Wan-Bissaka, but what can you do about a 30 minute hat-trick from the greatest man in Britain?
Manchester United: De Gea 7, Wan-Bissaka 8, Lindelof 7, Maguire 7, Shaw 7, Matic 6, Fred 8, Pogba 7, Van de Beek 7, Greenwood 8, Martial 8. Subs: McTominay 7, Rashford 10, Fernandes 9, Tuanzebe 6, Cavani 6.
RB Leipzig: Gulasci 6, Henrichs 5, Konate 5, Upamecano 5, Halstenberg 5, Kamppl 5, Olmo 5, Forsberg 5, Nkunku 5, Angelino 4, Poulsen 4. Subs: Sabitzer 5, Sorloth 6, Kluivert 6.
Despite only making his debut in February 2020 - Ole Gunnar Solskjær became Manchester United manager in December 2018 - no Manchester United player has registered more assists than Bruno Fernandes (12).
21’ - GOAL! Manchester United 1-0 RB Leipzig (Greenwood) "And Greenwood's in..." You know what's coming next. Fred wins the ball early and finds Pogba, who stretches forward and slides a pass in behind for Greenwood, who makes a brilliant run in between the centre-backs to meet the pass, shaking off Konate like a rag doll before easing an expert's finish across Gulasic into the far corner. That is a suuuuuch a finish, dripping confidence, competence and composure. I've been watching football 38 years, give or take, and I've never seen a finisher like him.
Mason Greenwood of Manchester United celebrates after scoring his sides first goal during the UEFA Champions League Group H stage match between Manchester United and RB Leipzig at Old Trafford
Image credit: Getty Images
64’ - Fred wins a challenge with Forsberg but can't make the second with Poulsen, giving Leipzig a free-kick, and it goes short then into the box; United clear. But Leipzig maintain pressure, Poulsen challenging for a ball at the back post which drops for Konate, who heads for goal ... but De Gea makes a decent reflex save at his near post, turning over the top.
70’ - Lovely stab over the top from Fernandes! This is like the goal Martial scored against Man City, and he's there again! But as the ball drops, the can't quite a poke on it. The one in the derby was on his toes, because the free-kick was further out; this one was harder. But what a pass that was.
74’ - Pogba finds Fred who finds Fernandes, and without looking he sweep-scoops a lovely ball around the corner ... and Rashford is in! Everyone stops thinking he's offside, but he started the run from inside his own half! He draws the keeper, opens his body and passes into the far corner! No one's given a goal, but....
76’ - GOAL! Manchester United 2-0 RB Leipzig (Rashford) This is a gorgeous goal! Play to the whistle, lads!
78’ - GOAL! Manchester United 3-0 RB Leipzig (Rashford) What an impact! What a player! What a man! Fred wins a crucial challenge, poking the ball to Rashford, who see-yas Upamecano like a boss, screeches into the box, and absolutely leathers a finish past Gualsci.
87’ - GOAL! Manchester United 4-0 RB Leipzig (Martial pen) Bruno, the penalty-taker, and Rashford, on a hat-trick, allow Martial the spot-kick, as he won it and hasn't scored this season. That's some nice team spirit and the ball is duly smacked across Gulasci, who gets a touch, into the side-netting. This is now a brilliant performance and result.
90+2’ - GOAL! Manchester United 5-0 RB Leipzig (Rashford) MARCUS RASHFORD IS A SUPERHERO! Martial, who's got better and better, burrows into the box and squares for Rashford; the ball bounces up nicely off his first touch, and he fairly lamps it home. That's three goals in 30 minutes.