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An early brace from Scott McTominay set Manchester United on course for a remarkable 6-2 win over Leeds United in the first top flight meeting between these two rivals in over 16 years.

The Scottish midfielder profited from chaotic defending by Leeds and exceptional build-up play from his team-mates to score in the second and third minutes before Bruno Fernandes' volley and a Victor Lindelof header seemingly killed off the contest.

It was to Leeds' credit that they attacked with relentless vigor even if that opened up vast spaces in behind for their hosts to counter. Liam Cooper scored from a corner just before the interval whilst Stuart Dallas curled a brilliant shot past David De Gea from outside the box.

The fly in Leeds' ointment was that between their two goals United netted a pair of their own. Daniel James struck on the counter in a rare start for the winger, who came within hours of signing for the Whites in January 2019, whilst Bruno Fernandes added a sixth from the penalty spot after Pascal Struijk brought down Anthony Martial.

Read on for the key talking points from the game.

Manchester United judge their opponent to perfection

If anything seems like evidence of the inherent randomness of the Premier League then it might be McTominay's brief rebrand as Frank Lampard 2.0, darting forward from deep to hammer Manchester United, they of the diabolical starts they must constantly overcome, into a two goal lead three minutes into the resumption of this great rivalry with Leeds. This is the sort of script one could only get from one million monkeys with one million typewriters.

And yet perhaps there was more method to this madness than one might have initially thought. This was the blueprint for what this collection of players can produce. Positionally fluid, allying exceptional technique to explosive pace, they are the sort of team that are perfectly placed to slice through defenses if they can get the passing right.

Throughout this season Manchester United have nearly scored the goals they did early against Leeds rather often. Even in the cure for insomnia that was last weekend's derby there was one move with Paul Pogba at its heart that was just one more pass away from teeing up Marcus Rashford for the goal of the season. More often than not these attacks fall just short because the precision that is required from them is too much even for the Red Devils' gaudy collection of attacking talent. Just one misplaced pass and the red arrows must stop in their tracks.

What helped was the chaos of Leeds' defense early on. They had committed too many forward and their man-marking approach to defense meant that all it took was for one player in red to beat one defender and there would be avenues aplenty to attack. 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer named just the right team to do that, bringing in James precisely because he is someone who can knock the ball beyond an opponent and bear down on goal. As the Welshman, Rashford and Martial draw panicking defenders towards them space will inevitably open up for those arriving late from midfield.

So for all that McTominay's record brace, the fastest anyone had ever netted twice in a Premier League match, seemed to be the result of random chance it may have been nothing more than Manchester United players executing a shrewd plan to perfection.

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Wild Leeds thrill even in defeat

This Leeds team are, as Gary Neville put it, a "mad bunch." Two goals down to one of their great rivals the natural inclination would be to stem the tide for a while at least. But this is not a team that ever looks to take the air out of a contest.

So it was that Leeds looked liable to concede whenever they didn't have the ball but equally a good bet to find the net whenever they got near to the Red Devils' penalty area. Patrick Bamford, scorer of nine goals already this season, spurned an excellent chance at 2-1 when he skewed an effort wide when well-placed on his weaker right foot. Had he scored that the timbre of the game might have changed but Leeds' approach would not.

At times that feels like a curse inflicted on Marcelo Bielsa but for the Premier League it is a blessing. Even at 4-1 down at half-time the watching neutral ought not to have thought this game was over because Leeds were going to attack with the same intensity and defend in the same cavalier fashion.

Raphinha was a superb David De Gea save away from scoring at the back post whilst Dallas' curling effort from just beyond the D might have been the best goal of the game. Certainly their approach was not effective today but it was ludicrously fun and it is hard to begrudge them their flaws when watching them play leaves you with beaming from ear to ear.

A curious punishment for James

One moment that particularly stood out in the second half was the yellow card handed to James, who went tumbling to the ground in the 52nd minute as he tried to get past Cooper. On first viewing it looked like the Welshman had opted not to engage with the tussle for the ball and had gone down a little easily in pursuit of a penalty.

It was then easy to understand why Anthony Taylor, who refereed much of this match in excellent fashion, pointed his yellow card at the Manchester United winger rather than Cooper. And yet replays suggested there was contact, quite possibly minimal contact, but when a player like James is moving at near top speed sometimes the slightest of touches is enough to knock them off balance.

That might suggest that Cooper had fouled James and that a penalty or free-kick (depending on where the contact took place) should have been given to United. However sanctioning the Leeds defender would have felt no less cruel than the booking for James. What can a slower center back do otherwise if not use his body to get between forward and ball?

In this instance Taylor seemingly felt compelled to do something. Someone had gone to the ground, someone must have been at fault. That often seems to be the instinctive response from referees when the reality is that on occasion players will come together through no fault of anyone in particular.

Notable performances

Anthony Martial: This was the sort of game that perfectly suited Martial with space to attack and opponents to run straight at. To his credit he made the most of this unique opposition, laying on two shrewd assists. RATING: 8

Luke Ayling: Despite being part of a defense that conceded a hatful of goals it was hard not to admire Ayling, who won a string of tackles but was even more effective on the front foot. Few defenders seem quite as willing to run at and beyond opponents and he made a string of impressive runs through the heart of the Manchester United team. RATING: 6

Premier League outlook

With a game in hand on those around them, Manchester United suddenly find themselves firmly in the chasing pack at the top of the table. Solskjaer's side are third in the table on 26 points, five behind leaders Liverpool. Leeds, meanwhile, are 14th. With 30 goals in their against column they have conceded four more than any team in the top flight this season.