Alexis Sanchez enjoys decent home debut as Man United cruise to victory
Manchester United emerged from a sluggish first half to claim an ultimately comfortable 2-0 win at home to Huddersfield Town, exacting a measure of revenge for the visitors' victory over them earlier in the season.
Jose Mourinho made something of a point by omitting Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba after poor performances against Tottenham in midweek, but in their absence Alexis Sanchez -- who scored his first goal for his new club -- was more than enough to prompt the team to victory.
Sanchez again showed his value as a constant outlet and source of attacking inspiration. Juan Mata was busy, elegant and effective in midfield.
United's first half was extremely slow, marked by unambitious passing from the defence and midfield and by poor movement in the final third. Yet, to their credit, they raised their standards sharply after the interval.
Manager rating out of 10
7 -- Mourinho's gamble of leaving Pogba on the bench paid off, as it should, given United's superior resources. His team found its rhythm after a slow start and by the end were attacking with ease.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK David De Gea, 7 -- Barely had anything to do, such was the extent to which Huddersfield were kept in check by their own tactics and by United's attentive midfield axis of Nemanja Matic and Scott McTominay.
DF Antonio Valencia, 7 -- Another typically diligent day out for Valencia, who covered his own flank well and got across to the other wing to help defend when necessary. Never looked troubled.
DF Marcos Rojo, 7 -- His ambitious passing from the back was a feature of some of United's better build-up play, and he looked more assured here than in previous games, admittedly against lesser threats.
DF Chris Smalling, 6 -- Seemed uncomfortable even though the opposition's attack was limited, and was not too keen to pass the ball forwards, inhibiting the speed and directness of United's play.
DF Luke Shaw, 7 -- Was not under much pressure due to Huddersfield's reactive tactics, and provided good width and attacking verve throughout.
MF Nemanja Matic, 7 -- Screened the defence well, now and then dropping into the centre-back position to build the play, and provided a good platform for United's forward moves.
MF Scott McTominay, 7 -- His passing and positioning were competent if conservative in the first half, but after the break he offered something more, pushing forward and playing some fine angled passes into space.
MF Juan Mata, 8 -- Bright and inventive throughout, finding space with ease, and spreading play with an alertness unmatched by several of his colleagues. Provided a superb assist for Romelu Lukaku's opener.
FW Jesse Lingard, 6 -- A game where he was hard working when in defence, as usual, but where his best attacking ideas did not come to fruition. Much toil, but little reward.
FW Alexis Sanchez, 8 -- A constant threat, and though profligate with his use of the ball that was his means of making something happen. And make something happen he did, clinching the game by following up from a saved penalty. His movement and his creativity lifted his team time and again.
FW Romelu Lukaku, 7 -- He was elusive again to open the scoring, his intelligent run creating room for a fine volleyed finish. His hold up play was good, though he was not as creative a presence as in some of his previous games.
MF Paul Pogba, 7 (for Lingard, 65) -- Was box-to-box from the moment he stepped on the pitch, popping up in both attack and defence down the left flank, as if proving the case for his inclusion.
FW Marcus Rashford, 7 (for Mata, 67) -- Clever movement throughout his cameo, his sleight of foot almost helping to create a third for United late on.
FW Anthony Martial, N/R (for Lukaku, 77) -- His pace pinned Huddersfield even further back in the final stages, and United almost added to the scoreline thanks to him.
Musa Okwonga is one of ESPN FC's Manchester United bloggers. Follow on Twitter: @Okwonga.