Match Report: Manchester United 3-1 Arsenal: Rashford and Antony end Gunners’ perfect start

Marcus Rashford celebrates after restoring Manchester United's lead against Arsenal

Picked to start just three days after completing his move from Ajax, Antony slotted United into a first-half lead after Gabriel Martinelli was denied by another controversial VAR intervention.

Arsenal had a deserved equaliser when Bukayo Saka swept home on the hour mark, but United pulled away when Rashford rounded off two devastating counter-attacks in the final 25 minutes.

Arsenal’s dominance of possession ultimately counted for nothing as they dropped points for the first time this term, with the rejuvenated hosts moving to within three points of the Gunners.

Christian Eriksen and Jadon Sancho spurned good chances as United made a fast start, but they were handed a huge let-off when Martinelli applied a cool one-on-one finish 12 minutes in, as referee Paul Tierney spotted a foul on Eriksen in the build-up after heading to the monitor.

With Arsenal growing in confidence, David de Gea was forced into a fine one-handed save from Martinelli, but the hosts took the lead against the run of play after 35 minutes as Antony slotted home after latching onto Rashford’s pass.

Arsenal continued to dominate the ball after the break, with Saka drilling a low shot wide shortly before Antony was replaced by Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Gunners’ pressure finally told on the hour mark, as Saka capitalised on a loose ball to sweep home after the impressive Gabriel Jesus was dispossessed.

But Rashford was to prove the match-winner as United hit their opponents on the break in brilliant fashion, racing onto Bruno Fernandes’ pass to put the Red Devils in front before tapping home from Eriksen’s cut-back to secure United’s fourth consecutive win.

What does it mean? United post rare Gunners win as leaders fall short

Wins over Liverpool, Southampton and Leicester City gave lift-off to Ten Hag’s Old Trafford tenure, but a victory against the league leaders – a side United had beaten just once in their last eight meetings (three draws, four defeats) – is sure to have the Red Devils dreaming of a successful season.

Arsenal, meanwhile, fell short. They were looking to win a sixth successive game at the start of a top-flight campaign for the first time since 1947-48, a season when they went on to win the title.

Perfect start for Antony

Perhaps surprisingly, Erik ten Hag opted to throw Antony in from the start at Old Trafford, and the winger did not need long to make an impact.

Antony kept his cool when released by Rashford to become the 21st player to score on his Premier League debut for United, and the first since Donny van de Beek in September 2020 (v Crystal Palace).

At 22 years and 192 days old, Antony is the youngest Brazilian player to score on his Premier League bow for any club.

Rashford back on song

Having endured a frustrating 2021-22 campaign, Rashford appears a player reborn under Ten Hag. Having laid on Antony’s opener, he broke clear to stun Arsenal twice in quick succession after the break.

This is the fourth occasion on which the England international has contributed to three goals in a Premier League game, and two of those instances have now come at home to Arsenal (also two goals and one assist in February 2016).

What’s next?

Both clubs are in Europa League action on Thursday, with Manchester United hosting Real Sociedad and Arsenal travelling to FC Zurich.

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