Injury-time goals from Declan Rice and Gabriel Jesus gave us a dramatic late comeback win at Emirates Stadium.
Marcus Rashford had fired the visitors ahead on 27 minutes with their first attack, only for Martin Odegaard to immediately crash home a leveller.
Kai Havertz and Bukayo Saka both spurned good chances – either side if the interval – and the second-half had been dominated by two big VAR interventions. The first reversed a penalty decision, when it appeared Kai Havertz had been fouled, the second ruled out a late United goal for offside.
But the real drama was yet to come. A corner fell to Rice at the far post in the 96th minute, and he controlled on his chest before crashing home his shot inside the near post.
Emirates Stadium was bouncing, and with virtually the last kick of the game Jesus raced away to add a late third on the break.
In a fervent Emirates atmosphere we started strongly. Havertz released Gabriel Martinelli on the left in the first minute, but his cutback evaded everyone in the box. Our first corner moments later led to a blocked shot from Martinelli.
Mikel Arteta had reverted to the back four that served us so well for most of last season, with Ben White back at right back in place of the injured Thomas Partey.
We had a great chance to take the lead after a quarter of an hour. Rice started the move, biting into a challenge in midfield to launch a counter attack. The ball fell inside the box to Havertz, on his left foot ten yards from goal, but the German failed to make decent contact, and the opportunity went begging.
Martinelli was heavily involved. His deep cross looked destined for the head of Bukayo Saka at the far post until Diego Dalot flicked it away for a corner. From the resulting set piece, Rice headed over.
Exploding into life
Just as the tempo began to drop, the game erupted with two quick goals.
It was United who netted first, albeit against the run of play. Havertz saw his crossfield ball cut out, and Christian Eriksen released Rashford in a flash. As our defenders backed off, the England forward pressed on, before bending a right-foot shot in off the post.
It was the visitors’ first shot – on or off target – of the afternoon, but their lead lasted less than two minutes.
Martinelli was the architect of our equaliser, his low cross perfectly picked out the arriving Odegaard, and our skipper applied a sweet left-foot shot to get us back on terms.
The atmosphere intensified yet further.
Eddie Nkeitah – back in the starting line-up a few days after receiving his first senior England call-up – looked to be away down the left late in the half, but he was crudely stopped by Victor Lindelof who was promptly shown a yellow card. On another day he could have seen red.
In injury time Saka took aim from just outside the area after Nketiah laid off a corner to him, but his curler was blocked for another corner – our eighth of the half, an opening 45 minutes of which we had been on top, but failed to capitalise on our superiority.
Martinelli and Odegaard both had promising positions snuffed out in the opening exchanges of the second half as we looked to maintain the pressure.
At the other end Anthony Martial saw his shot saved by Aaron Ramsdale before William Saliba blocked well from Rashford’s follow-up.
On the hour mark we were awarded a penalty for a foul by Aaron Wan-Bissaka on Havertz, but referee Anthony Taylor changed his decision after a VAR review. He had apparently seen enough on the replay to deem his initial award was an obvious error.
Martinelli bent a low shot from 20 yards following a short corner, as the game became more scrappy in the final 20 minutes. The visitors were starting to grow more dangerous on the counter.
United sent on Rasmus Hojlund for his debut, Arteta responded by bringing on Gabriel Jesus, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Fabio Vieira.
We were patiently looking for an opening, and all of a sudden fashioned a superb chance with a flowing move. Martinelli started it, passed to Odegaard who in turn found White. His low cross was right at Saka’s feet, but Onana blocked the low shot at short range.
Alejandro Garnacho raced away to slide the ball past Ramsdale to seemingly give United a lead in the final minutes, but VAR replays showed he was offside.
Late, late drama
The game entered eight minutes of injury time. In the sixth of those a speculative shot from Odegaard was deflected over for a corner. It was delivered deep by Saka, to Rice, who controlled on his chest, before arrowing home at the near post.
Emirates Stadium erupted, but we still had two minutes to see out. That’s when we added the gloss to an unforgettable afternoon. Vieira sprung forward on the counter, fed Jesus and he rolled home to put the icing on the cake.
Our international players will be joining up with their respective national teams for the next couple of weeks, before we return to Premier League action away to Everton on Sunday, September 17. Just a few days after that, our Champions League campaign kicks off, at home to PSV Eindhoven on Wednesday, September 20.
Stats and facts
Declan Rice’s goal on 95 minutes and 43 seconds was the latest winning goal ever scored in a Premier League fixture between us and Manchester United.
We are unbeaten in their last six Premier League games against Manchester United at the Emirates (W5 D1), and have now won three consecutive home league games against them for the first time since May 1991.
United haven’t won any of their last six Premier League away games in London (D2 L4), their longest such run since 2015 to 2016 between the spells of Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho (also six games).
United were ahead in this match for just 110 seconds, following Martin Odegaard’s equaliser in the 28th minute. We have now only lost two of the last nine Premier League games at the Emirates in which they’ve conceded the opening goal, and have come back to win five of those (D2).
Marcus Rashford became just the second Manchester United player to score in three consecutive Premier League appearances against us, along with Robin van Persie who did so between 2012 and 2013.
Odegaard netted his 25th Premier League goal for us, while he’s now scored more league goals than any other of our players since the start of last season (17).
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