Ole Gunnar Solskjaer oversaw a stunning reunion with bitter rivals Leeds as Manchester United scored six in a home Premier League match for the first time since Sir Alex Ferguson retired.
The Norwegian came on as a substitute in the last league meeting of these old foes in February 2004 and masterminded an unforgettable victory when they renewed hostilities at an empty Old Trafford on Sunday.
Scott McTominay’s superb early brace set the tone in a wild first half in which Bruno Fernandes and Victor Lindelof also scored before Leeds captain Liam Cooper clawed one back.
Daniel James and Fernandes increased Manchester United’s lead before Stuart Dallas’ stunner saw the match end 6-2, making this the first time the Red Devils have netted six since winning 8-2 against Arsenal in 2011.
Ferguson was in charge then and enjoyed this triumph from the directors’ box at Old Trafford, where McTominay became the first player in Premier League history to score twice in the opening three minutes.
Fernandes fizzed home as Manchester United scored as many in the opening 20 minutes as they had managed in their previous six home league games, before Lindelof directed in a fourth from a corner.
Cooper reduced the deficit as Leeds deservedly pulled one back, but the home side’s quality made the difference in an encounter as intense as it was entertaining.
James, so close to joining Leeds in January 2019, extended the hosts’ lead, before Fernandes coolly converted a penalty and Dallas grabbed a fine consolation in a match bursting with chances at both ends.
Slow starts have been a hallmark of Solskjaer’s side this season, but they flew out of the blocks on Sunday.
The perfect start in one picture 😍
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) December 20, 2020
McTominay was among five changes to Thursday’s 3-2 win at Sheffield United and quickly justified his inclusion, meeting a squared pass from Fernandes with a low thumping effort just 67 seconds into the match.
Illan Meslier would be picking the ball out of the Leeds net again in the third minute, with McTominay showing good footwork after latching onto a smart Anthony Martial pass to send the hosts into dreamland.
It was a stunning start to a match played at an impressive tempo given the absence of supporters, with Marcelo Bielsa’s men rallying after the early setbacks as Bamford wasted a fine chance.
The in-form forward also had an effort ruled out for offside.
But for all of Leeds’ endeavour, they were struggling to cope with the hosts’ midfield and Fred prised them open in the 20th minute.
Luke Ayling prevented Martial getting a shot on target from the Brazilian’s clever pass, but it fell for Fernandes to lash home from an acute angle.
Leeds retained their attacking courage despite the deficit and Bamford headed over before David De Gea denied Raphinha, only to be caught out as an avoidable break brought about a costly corner.
Luke Shaw’s set-piece was flicked on by Martial to the far post, where Lindelof turned home to make it 4-0 in the 37th minute.
But Leeds would pull one back as half-time approached. Raphinha sent in a corner from the left and Cooper rose to direct a header in off the post.
Marcus Rashford attempted to add a fifth before half-time and the end-to-end theme continued as soon as the second period got under way.
Martial wasted a good chance after Leeds lost possession, before De Gea saved Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s blushes after Raphinha got behind him to meet a cross with a crashing volley that the goalkeeper somehow saved.
James was harshly booked for diving under pressure from Cooper in the box, with Ayling denying McTominay the chance of a hat-trick.
Raphinha was again thwarted by De Gea before the hosts put the game to bed in the 66th minute. McTominay collected the ball and roared forwards, before finding James to cut away from his man and direct through Meslier’s legs.
Matters worsened for Leeds in the 70th minute as Fernandes added a sixth. Half-time introduction Pascal Struijk brought down Martial, with the Portuguese coolly slotting home the resulting spot kick.
It would have been seven was it not for Meslier denying Martial as this frenetic encounter continued, with Dallas curling an effort beyond De Gea.
Harry Maguire blocked Jack Harrison before substitutes Edinson Cavani and Alex Telles were denied by Meslier, who also thwarted Fred as the match ended as frantically as it started.