Manchester United strengthened their position in the top four of the Premier League with a crucial victory away to bitter rivals Leeds United on Sunday afternoon, with Erik ten Hag‘s side perhaps still harbouring hopes of playing a part in the title race following that 2-0 triumph.

There is no doubt that the Red Devils will need to perform much better than they did at Elland Road if they are to remain in the mix at the summit, although the United boss will seemingly be encouraged by the battling, dogged nature of his team’s display, as well as the clinical manner in which they dispatched the hosts late on.

For all the quality of the two finishes from emerging talisman Marcus Rashford and teenage starlet Alejandro Garnacho to seal the points, one man who perhaps epitomised the determination to secure the win was January arrival Wout Weghorst, with the towering Dutchman proving that he can still have a part to play between now and the end of the season.

How did Weghorst play against Leeds?

The 30-year-old titan – who joined on loan from Burnley last month – had gone into yesterday’s encounter having struggled in the reverse fixture just a few days earlier, with Manchester Evening News journalist Samuel Luckhurst suggesting that he looked “out of kilter” with the rest of his team-mates in the 2-2 draw at Old Trafford.

However, with attacking options limited amid the injury woes of Anthony Martial and Antony, the former Besiktas man kept his place in the starting XI for the trip to Yorkshire, although he endured a rather difficult opening period after once again receiving little service in attack.

Following that “poor” first-half performance – in the words of the aforementioned Luckhurst – there may well have been a clamour to see the Netherlands international withdrawn, although the 6 foot 6 powerhouse went on to more than make his mark in the final 30 minutes or so.

As writer Wayne Barton noted, the decision to deploy Rashford through the middle with Weghorst in a deeper role simply “transformed” the game for the visitors, as did the introduction of Lisandro Martinez off the bench.

While something of an “unorthodox” playmaking option, as per The Athletic’s Carl Anka, Weghorst seemingly helped in creating a better link between midfield and attack due to his hold-up play, having gone on to register two key passes from his 38 touches in total.

One such moment of quality saw the 19-cap giant slide in Garnacho with a neat first-time pass, with the Argentine youngster going on to sprint beyond his man before dispatching the ball past the flailing Illan Meslier at the near post.

Although the imposing marksman did lose possession nine times on the day as an illustration that his performance was far from perfect, the one-time Wolfsburg ace did showcase his physical quality by winning three duels.

The Dutchman had appeared to have capped his fine outing with a goal at the death after showing great athleticism to convert from Harry Maguire’s flick-on, albeit with the offside flag duly denying him a first Premier League goal for the club.

Even so, that encouraging second-half performance – which ensured that he finished with a match rating of 7.2 from Sofascore – has emphasised the impact that Weghorst can have in the coming months, even if not finding the net himself.

While the experienced asset may appear little more than a stop-gap solution in the centre-forward berth, amid repeated links to the likes of Victor Osimhen and Harry Kane, he can seemingly prove that he was an astute January acquisition nonetheless.


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