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Manchester United managed to cling on and withstand heavy pressure against a galvanized Middlesbrough side under interim boss Steve Agnew, defeating the relegation threatened side 3-1 at the Riverside Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
It was the Red Devils who opened the scoring in the first-half after Ashley Young picked out Marouane Fellaini at the back post with an excellent cross and the Belgian international made no mistake. United went two goals ahead in the second half, when Jesse Lingard scored with a sublime shot from outside the box, after running at the Boro defence from the halfway mark.
The home side turned the heat on from there and managed to strike back after some poor defending in the box by United, with substitute Rudy Gestede slamming in from close-range. The pressure continued to rise from Middlesbrough and United hung by the thread. However, in the dying moments of the game, the visitors clinched the game for sure, after Boro goalkeeper Victor Valdes slipped inside his box, leaving Antonio Valencia to roll the ball into an empty net.
The win saw United move to 5th in the Premier League standings, after Arsenal lost last night against West Bromwich Albion. It was far from the ideal performance by Manchester United, but they managed to hold on for three crucial points. Here is how the United players fared on the day:
Forced into making a save early in the game by Gaston Ramirez. Did not have much to do thereafter. Could do nothing to keep out Gestede.
Playing as a right-sided defender among the back three. Read the game well but left plenty of spaces open when Valencia romped forward. Was involved in a scuffle with Gestede and Ben Gibson.
Looked the most comfortable among the back three, until an utterly poor mishit clearance allowed Gestede to score.
Had nervy moments in plenty, with Alvaro Negredo getting goal-side ahead of him on more than one occasions. Picked a needless yellow in the first-half.
Slotted in as the right wing-back, another energetic and powerful performance down the flank. His pressure on Valdes caused the mistake allowing him to carry the ball into an empty net.
Such a calming influence in the middle of the park for United. Was outnumbered on occasions, but managed to come out unscathed. Provided control and balance.
Opened the scoring from a brilliant header following a smart run, by taking up a position at the back post. Gave United an aerial advantage.
Put in a magnificent cross to set Fellaini up for the opener. A performance full of hard work and running for the left wing-back.
Started the game off in his own busy style, trying to make things happen. However, seemed to get tired and drifted out of the game.
Lively and energetic throughout. Drove United forward with plenty of vigour as he was afforded plenty of spaces behind the Boro midfield. Scored a scorcher from 20-yards out. Hobbled off due to an injury, with 10 minutes left to play. Man-of-the-Match display.
He beat Bernardo in Boro defence throughout the first-half, running past him with ease. Had two goal-bound efforts from close-range stopped brilliantly by Valdes. A good show from the young striker.
Replaced Mata in the 69th minute as Mourinho looked to shore things up at the back. Defended well against the trickery of Adama Traore.
Came on for Lingard with ten minutes left to play. Hardly had a touch of the ball.
Replaced Rashford in the final seconds as United looked to run down the clock.