Marcus Rashford led Manchester United to its first Premier League win in six weeks as Erik ten Hag’s team overcame Brentford 1-0 to move back into the top four on Wednesday. (More Football News)
Winning the English League Cup in February underlined the progress overseen by Ten Hag this season, but United has failed to win any of its three league matches since the victory at Wembley.
A meek defeat at Newcastle on Sunday led Ten Hag to once again publicly question his players’ hunger, but United showed more character three days later to edge out Brentford in the pouring rain at Old Trafford.
Rashford struck the first-half winner from the impressive Marcel Sabitzer’s knockdown, putting the hosts on course for just their fourth Premier League win in 10 matches.
United dropped off after the break as Brentford bounced back from a subdued first-half display, but Thomas Frank’s team was unable to eke out an equalizer.
David De Gea spread himself to block substitute Kevin Schade’s effort as United gained a measure of revenge for the 4-0 loss to the Bees in August in Ten Hag’s second match in charge.
Ten Hag reacted to last month’s 7-0 loss at Liverpool by sticking with an unchanged side in the next game and he did similar this time around, making only one change from Newcastle.
It meant Wout Weghorst dropped to the bench for the first time since joining on loan in January, and United had to remain patient as the Bees’ five-man backline sat deep and frustrated.
A lack of movement and creativity meant the Red Devils offered little in response until showing flickers of life. Scott McTominay shot narrowly over after Antony caught Brentford off guard by cutting back with his weaker right foot.
The Brazil international was again involved as United opened the scoring in the 27th minute. Antony collected a cleared corner and lifted the ball back into the box, with Sabitzer smartly cushioning a header into the path of Rashford to fire home from six meters.
That lit up a drab game played in miserable conditions at Old Trafford, where Luke Shaw’s 250th United appearance lasted just 37 minutes before he was replaced by Tyrell Malacia because of an apparent injury.
Antony volleyed wide shortly after Shaw’s exit and had two further shots before the break, with Rashford having two himself as he attempted to extend United’s lead.
Brentford was surprisingly passive but De Gea nearly gave the visitors a way back in shortly after the break as Ivan Toney charged down his kick. The ball flew just wide.
Jadon Sancho and Antony had efforts before Sabitzer was denied as United again pushed for a second, but Brentford was growing in confidence.
Substitute Shandon Baptiste had a shot deflected wide and De Gea bravely stood his ground to block an attempt by fellow replacement Schade. The United goalkeeper required treatment after the collision.