Lisandro Martinez is ruthless! Winners and losers as Man Utd's star centre-back shuts the door on Brentford with near-perfect performance

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Lisandro Martinez Manchester United Brentford 2022-23
Manchester United's beloved 'butcher' led by example in a much-needed 1-0 win over Brentford on Wednesday.

Manchester United needed to respond to the dismal defeat at Newcastle and if fans were hoping for an emphatic thrashing such as the one they handed out to Real Betis days after being hammered by Liverpool, they will feel short-changed by this narrow 1-0 win over Brentford.

But sometimes you just need to hold it together and stop the rot and that was what United did, taking three valuable points thanks to Marcus Rashford's first-half strike.

Against a hugely impressive Brentford who humiliated them 4-0 in August, Erik ten Hag's side delivered a really solid performance and Lisandro Martinez led the way in defence. Compared to that ugly game at the beginning of the season, this was much, much better.

Martinez held everything together from the back and ensured Brentford's 17-goal striker Ivan Toney had little to feed on.

There were also impressive displays from the likes of Marcel Sabitzer and Antony, while David de Gea struggled at times.

GOAL breaks down the winners and losers from Old Trafford...

  1. WINNER: Lisandro Martinez
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    WINNER: Lisandro Martinez

    The best thing about United's performance was their defence, and the Argentine set the tone, as he has done all season.

    His passing was perfect and he often filled in as a holding midfielder too to help out Scott McTominay and Marcel Sabitzer, who did their best to keep the ship afloat with Casemiro rounding out his suspension.

    Martinez also put his body on the line when Brentford were pushing for a late equaliser.

    The man they call The Butcher may be fearless but he is also highly intelligent and has been one of the team's most influential leaders.

    And after the demoralising defeat in the north east, his guidance here was invaluable.

  2. LOSER: David de Gea
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    LOSER: David de Gea

    The Spaniards' passing deficiencies were laid bare against Newcastle, but for the first half hour against Brentford he looked a picture of calm on the ball. Was this a step forward?

    Not quite. Whenever Brentford started to close him down, which they did with increasing frequency as the game went on, panic seemed to set in.

    The visiting supporters targeted him in the second half when they were close by him and so did Brentford's players, none more than Ivan Toney, who was inches away from deflecting a De Gea kick into the net.

    From then on the Spaniard played with a hint of nervousness every time he received the ball. You could feel it throughout the stadium.

    He did make a brave save from Kevin Schade but the striker should have made him work more.

    And however good he still is at shot-stopping, De Gea's weakness is getting harder and harder to ignore for a club with the highest of ambitions.

  3. WINNER: Marcus Rashford

    WINNER: Marcus Rashford

    United's talisman was not at his sharpest overall and will be disappointed with some of his shots and mislaid passes.

    But he provided a solid finish to put United in front and settle their nerves. It was his 28th goal of the season, his 15th in the Premier League, and it was yet another decisive strike that was the difference between one point and three for the Red Devils.

    He looked the likeliest to get a second goal, ripping his way through Brentford down both wings in the second half even though he could not put his chances away.

    He badly needs some support, because it is not right for so much of the responsibility for scoring to fall on his shoulders.

  4. LOSER: Ivan Toney
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    LOSER: Ivan Toney

    The England striker had a memorable last trip to this region, bagging two goals in Brentford's shock win at the Etihad Stadium in November.

    But this was not his day.

    He kept on being beaten in the air by Raphael Varane, and Martinez plus the impressive Tyrell Malacia all ensured he was kept quiet and could not add to his 17 Premier League goals.

    And to make matters worse, Rashford is catching up with him and eyeing the third spot in the scoring charts that he currently occupies.

  5. WINNER: Marcel Sabitzer
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    WINNER: Marcel Sabitzer

    The Austrian really imposed himself on the game and was very productive going forward.

    He resisted the urge to head Antony's cross at goal and instead cushioned the ball into the path of Rashford, who was in a better position and made no mistake.

    The midfielder was keen to get a goal of his own and gave United an extra attacking threat around the box.

    He has had a slow start to his United career, not helped by niggling injuries, but this was a commanding performance which showcased his best qualities.

  6. LOSER: Tottenham

    LOSER: Tottenham

    Newcastle's huge win over West Ham means that Tottenham look like United's biggest rivals for a top-four spot.

    And any hope that United could be in free fall after the defeat at St James' Park was dashed by this result.

    It is going to be a real battle for the final Champions League berth and although United are far from the finished article, they have a resilience that manager-less Spurs do not appear to have at the moment.