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Dublin: 6°C Wednesday 25 November 2020


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THREE GAMES IN the English top flight on this rainy Sunday, the first of which kicks off at midday.

While Manchester City host Liverpool at 4.30pm after Tottenham entertain Southampton (2.15pm), it’s over to the Riverside Stadium first for the visit of Manchester United.

19th-placed Middlesbrough sacked manager Aitor Karanka — a former assistant to Jose Mourinho at Real Madrid — this week, meaning Steve Agnew has stepped up to take care of first team duties today.

United, who can move up to fifth with three points here, come into the game on the back of Thursday’s 1-0 win over Rostov, which secured a place in the Europa League quarter-finals.

Here are the teams:


Middlesbrough: Valdes, Barragan, Bernardo, Gibson, Da Silva, de Roon, Clayton, Leadbitter, Downing, Negredo, Ramirez.


Manchester United: De Gea, Jones, Smalling, Bailly, Valencia, Fellaini, Carrick, Young, Mata, Lingard, Rashford.

Boro make four changes to the side that lost to Manchester City in the FA Cup, with Victor Valdes, Gaston Ramirez, Stewart Downing and Alvaro Negredo all coming in.

United, meanwhile, bring in seven players — David De Gea, Phil Jones, Ashley Young, Michael Carrick, Marouane Fellaini, Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford. While Wayne Rooney is injured and Zlatan Ibrahimovic sits the game out due to suspension, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Anthony Martial are on the bench.

Boro are 9/2 to cause an upset here, while Man United are 4/6 and you can back the draw at 11/4.

So, how do you see it going?

Poll Results:

Man United win (309)
Draw (53)
Boro win (36)

They sides are out on the pitch and lined up, so it’s time to get going. United playing with three at the back.

United Boro Source: BT Sport

Flag 1Mins

KICK-OFF – Here we go. Boro in their home colours of red and while, United wearining all blue. It looks like a pretty blustery afternoon in the North East.


An early half-chance for Boro. The recalled Downing whips a cross over and Smalling has to head behind with De Roon looking to make contact.


SAVE! Rashford gets in behind Boro’s backline and former Man United keeper Valdes does well to keep him out.


GOOD STOP! Ramirez cuts inside to get the ball onto his right foot before curling an effort towards the far post. It’s a decent strike but De Gea bats it away.


Rahsford and Lingard link up well to create an opening but the Boro defence snuff out the attack by conceding a corner. Fellaini rises highest but heads over.


SUPERB FROM VALDES! The Spaniard makes himself big to stop Rashford after the striker had latched onto Mata’s cutback. Ex-Barcelona man Valdes then keeps out Valencia.


YELLOW CARD – Jones goes into Jon Moss’ book as Negredo hits the deck. That looked soft.

Flag 29Mins

GOAL! Middlesbrough 0-1 Manchester United (Marouane Fellaini) 

United lead! Young gets forward and swings the ball to the back post where Fellaini is given the time to head home. Louis van Gaal would be proud of that combo.


There’s a chance. Negredo gives Jones a little nudge to buy himself a yard before heading wide.


Rashford continues to cause the Boro backline trouble and Valdes has to pull off another save after the striker had made good use of his pace.

Flag 45Mins

Half-time: Middlesbrough 0-1 Manchester United 

Middlesbrough v Manchester United - Premier League - Riverside Stadium Fellaini scored past Valdes. Source: PA Wire/PA Images


SECOND HALF – They’re just restarted and the sun is out. No changes on either side.


That could have proved costly! Smalling attempts to head back to De Gea but gets it completely wrong and goes sliding across the turf on his stomach. Thankfully for him, there are no Boro players nearby to capitalise.


Ex-Man United defender Fabio catches old friend Valencia on the foot and a foul is awarded. The Brazilian escapes a booking though.

Flag 61Mins

GOAL! Middlesbrough 0-2 Manchester United (Jesse Lingard) 

That’s a stunning strike. United break in numbers and Lingard goes on a run through the middle. The pitch opens up in front of him and the England international blasts the ball into the top corner. There’s no stopping that, but poor defending from Boro.


Boro create two chances and both are headers that fall to Spanish striker Negredo. The first is straight into De Gea’s arms and the second goes wide. There’s no doubting that Negredo is an aerial threat, however.


DOUBLE SUBSTITUTION – Boro send on Adama Traore and Rudy Gestede in place of Leadbitter and Ramirez.


MAN UNITED CHANGE – Mourinho brings on Marcos Rojo with Mata being withdrawn.

Flag 77Mins

GOAL! Middlesbrough 1-2 Manchester United (Rudy Gestede) 

Boro are back in this! Downing’s cross is knocked down by Negredo and Jones’ clearances is high but not very convincing. The ball then drops to the feet of Smalling but he mishits it into the path of substitute Gestede, who can’t miss from close range.


ANOTHER SUB – Anthony Martial on for Lingard.


United are currently lining out with a back six. Seems crazy against a team who have been pretty toothless up front this season.


Gestede knocks the ball on and Negredo tries a volley but it’s a weak one. It’s Boro who look the most likely to score next as the clock ticks down to 90 minutes.


An on-field scuffle has broken out after Gestede grabs Bailly. No cards dished out by referee Moss.


GOAL! Middlesbrough 1-3 Manchester United (Antonio Valencia)

That’s the win wrapped up for United. Valencia goes on a run down the right and, after losing possession, continues to chase the ball down. Valdes attempts to clear a pass back but slips at the vital moment — allowing the full-back the easiest of tap-ins.

It wasn’t pretty at times and Mourinho is likely to be criticised for his overly-defensive approach in the second half, but he’ll pleased that United are finally up to fifth after more than 100 days in sixth place.

We’re being shown scenes after the final whistle of some handbags between both sets of players in the tunnel.

About the author:

Ben Blake