Manchester United 2 Leeds United 2: Whites show resolve and energy to claim point to be proud of

After all the criticism Jesse Marsch took for desperately trying to put positive spins on points dropped, it would be churlish not to acknowledge that Leeds United failed to beat Manchester United at Old Trafford on Wednesday night.

But as 2-2 draws go, it was a massively encouraging one.

"We're Leeds and we're proud of it," the away end sang at full-time, a refreshing change from Sunday's calls for a change in the dugout.

Yes, Leeds took a 2-0 lead and were unable to keep it but the history books and form books both tell what a treat a point was. And it could easily have been three, with Brenden Aaronson hitting the base of the post from a free-kick at 2-1.

EARLY STARTER: Willy Gnonto (right) celebrates his first-minute goal for Leeds United at Manchester UnitedEARLY STARTER: Willy Gnonto (right) celebrates his first-minute goal for Leeds United at Manchester United
EARLY STARTER: Willy Gnonto (right) celebrates his first-minute goal for Leeds United at Manchester United
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It is 13 years since Leeds last won at Old Trafford, 21 since they beat the Red Devils in a Premier League match and 42 since their previous league victory at the home of their bitterest rivals.

Whereas Leeds had won two of their last 17 matches, Manchester United had not lost at home since September 8. Fourteen of the 15 games in that time were wins.

But it was more than that, it was the way they played for caretaker coach Michael Skubala.

It took all of a minute to show what they had been missing too often under Marsch, pressing their hosts with the energy that would be a trademark until the tank emptied late on, winning the ball near the halfway line and watching as Willy Gnonto put it away clinically.

BATTLE: Tyler Adams competes with Manchester United midfielder FredBATTLE: Tyler Adams competes with Manchester United midfielder Fred
BATTLE: Tyler Adams competes with Manchester United midfielder Fred
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It came as Tyler Adams and Pascal Struijk – in such poor form recently – applied the thumbscrews to Bruno Fernandes, before Gnonto played a one-two with Patrick Bamford and drilled the ball into the net.

When, as is so often the case, basically the same team – nine of Sunday's starters were playing, in the same 4-2-3-1 formation – looks that much livelier under a new coach you are tempted to question why, but no matter.

In fairness to them, a big Roses match may have played its part.

Even under Marsch this season, Leeds have shown an ability to rise to the occasion. They beat Chelsea and won at Liverpool. They ought to have beaten Arsenal and drawn at Tottenham Hotspur.

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From the moment they went 1-0 up they had to defend heroically – none more so than Max Wober – and rely on good goalkeeping.

When Jadon Sancho equalised with 20 minutes left, the script seemed written for another Manchester United comeback win but weary Leeds refused to crumble. They had lost Luis Sinisterra to what looked like a hamstring strain in the first few minutes and Struijk to concussion when Marcus Rashford uncharitably hammered a shot at his head in the 23rd.

The Whites could have had a second goal had Struijk's 11th-minute header when a Jack Harrison cross was flicked to him been met with a bit more conviction. David de Gea was able to stick out a paw to save.

From that point on, though, the hosts attacked like a team who expected to get back into the game, only to hit a white wall.

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Marcel Sabitzer – a full debutant like his direct opponent Weston McKennie – volleyed over, then later shot wide. A third effort was tipped over by Illan Meslier.

Alejandro Garnacho put a good chance wide when picked out by Fernandes, then took the ball around Meslier only for Wober to get back and produce a clearing header from near the goalline.

It was typical of the Austrian's performance, blocking from Rafael Varane and Diogo Dalot.

Lisandro Martinez was fortunate to escape a red card for a kick out at Bamford's throat in the aftermath of a tackle but video assistant referee John Brooks was right not to award a penalty for a tackle on Crysencio Summerville outside the area.

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Leeds came out for the second half back on the front foot, Summerville’s shot deflected over before Robin Koch stole the ball off Garnacho and Varane diverted the cross into his own net.

A couple of Rashford misses, pulling one wide after cutting inside and volleying widely, suggested this might not be his or his team's night but in the 63rd minute he hung in the air and brilliantly headed in a Dalot cross. Now Leeds' chin was going to be properly tested.

They counter-punched, the recently introduced Aaronson striking the woodwork at a free-kick and Luke Ayling shooting over.

But another substitute, Sancho, equalised after good work down the left by Luke Shaw.

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Meslier tipped over from Varane and made a stretching save from Fred for a draw to be proud of.

Man United: De Gea; Dalot (Malacia 81), Varane, Martínez, Shaw; Fred, Sabitzer (Lindelof 81); Rashford, Fernandes, Garnacho (Pellistri 59); Weghorst (Sancho 59). Unused substitutes: Maguire, Heaton, Elanga, Iqbal, Mainoo.

Leeds United: Meslier; Ayling, Koch, Wober, Struijk (Firpo 23); Adams, McKennie (Greenwood 89); Sinisterra (Summerville 8), Harrison (Aaronson 63), Gnonto (Joseph 89); Bamford (Rutter 63). Unused substitutes: Gyabi, Robles, Kristensen.

Referee: S Hooper (Swindon).