Ten Hag’s boys have not enjoyed comfortable wins in a couple of games this season. Their latest outing saw Scott Mctominay score from the bench in the 93rd minute in a scrappy encounter against Omonia Nicosia saving United’s misfiring forwards.
It seemed as if the Red Devils would settle for a point at home with the resolute Omonia defense staying rigid all game alongside their Nigerian Goalkeeper, Francis Uzoho, doing all he could to keep united at bay.
The match played majorly in the Omonia half, saw United’s attackers get past the defense severally, but the keeper performed his task with due diligence.
Bruno’s rapid corner hit a defender’s arm, but the decision to award United a penalty was overturned by the VAR. The Red Devils kept pushing forward with chances from Marcus Rashford, Antony, Casemiro, and Bruno – all of whom couldn’t get past the keeper.
United head coach, Erik Ten Hag, seemingly pissed, looked to his bench for more attacking options as time whirled away. The Dutchman brought on Jadon Sancho, Luke Shaw, and Christain Eriksen for Antony, Tyrell Malacia, and Fred respectively.
Sancho was subject to criticism in the first leg due to his sluggish displays and his performance against their city rivals Manchester City. He was quick to combine with Shaw down the left.
The Englishman skipped past a couple of challenges and squared the ball to Bruno Fernandes, who steered it over the bar from close range.
Ten Hag Decision Making Seems Top Notch
Barring Bruno Souza’s failure to pass when the away side caught United on the counter, the home side was comfortable for most of the game and continued to push forward in search of a winner.
Ten Hag opted to bring Scott Mctominay on for Casemiro, who appeared to be wearing out as the game proceeded. This move proved vital as Mctominay’s shot from inside the box made the difference.
Sancho burst into the box and took on two defenders, turned them in and out before eventually squaring for Mctominay, who trapped and slotted the ball into the net in a composed striker’s finish pattern to the delight of the home fans.
This is not the first time Erik Ten Hag’s substitutions have been the game’s determinants. His decision to bring Ronaldo on for the injured Martial against Everton proved pivotal as the Portuguese International shot past Pickford to secure a 2-1 win for United.
In the first leg against Omonia Nicosia, United trailed by a goal after the break urging the manager to opt for a double swoop introducing Marcus Rashford and Luke Shaw after the break.
In no time, Rashford’s introduction was pivotal, as he found the back of the net to equal the score. He then opted to introduce Antony Martial, who rarely featured due to injury concerns.
The Frenchman’s shot from outside the box put United ahead, assisted by Rashford, who also went on to score the final goal of the game.
Ten Hag’s ruthlessness in dropping underperforming stars, his influence in the dressing room, and his decision-making during matches are United’s keys to grinding out wins in recent weeks.
It’ll be interesting to see how far his excellence at substitutions propels them, as their inability to finish and see-off games have been evident.