By Andy Sims, PA
Goals from Anthony Elanga, Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford boosted Manchester United’s top-four ambitions in a 3-1 win at Brentford.
But it was another less than convincing display from the visitors, while Cristiano Ronaldo was far from impressed at being substituted with 20 minutes left.
Teenage winger Elanga, starting only his fourth Premier League match, broke the deadlock early in the second half after Brentford had spurned a host of chances to take the lead.
England forward Greenwood then notched his first Premier League goal since October and Rashford climbed off the bench to add the third and secure a first win of 2022 for Ralf Rangnick’s side.
It was a bitter blow for Brentford, who had bossed the first league meeting between these sides since 1946 but only had Ivan Toney’s late consolation to show for it.
The Bees’ attack quickly set about getting in United’s faces and Mathias Jensen was denied from close range by the legs of David De Gea.
From the corner Mads Bech Sorensen’s shot was deflected wide before a poor clearance from Fred allowed Jensen to cut the ball back to Christian Norgaard, who volleyed narrowly over.
As half-time approached United were carved open by a lightning Brentford counter-attack with Bryan Mbeumo and Vitaly Janelt switching play out to Toney on the left.
Toney touched the ball inside to Jensen, who was through one-on-one with De Gea but again put his shot too close to the Spaniard.
United were being given the run-around by a more energetic and skillful side and only briefly threatened the Bees goal when Diogo Dalot curled an effort wide.
It was another disjointed first-half display from the visitors, with Ronaldo cutting a frustrated figure up front and Greenwood anonymous out on the right wing.
Ronaldo, who had missed the defeat by Wolves and the draw with Aston Villa through injury, clipped the top of the crossbar with a looping header at the start of the second half.
But United were almost immediately caught on the counter again, Mbeumo leading the charge before slipping in Jensen who yet again saw his shot saved by De Gea.
The busy United keeper also held a header from Toney and kept out an audacious lob from the halfway line from Jensen.
But Brentford were left to regret all those missed chances in the 55th minute when Fred lifted a cross into the area, Elanga took a heavy touch trying to control it but then beat keeper Jonas Lossl to the ball to head in a second career goal.
Seven minutes later United added a second when Bruno Fernandes raced through and squared the ball for Greenwood to apply a simple finish.
Rangnick then opted to substitute Ronaldo, to his obvious annoyance, the striker hurling his coat to the floor as he sat down muttering ‘why?’.
But his replacement, Rashford, grabbed the crucial third goal with a smart near-post finish from Fernandes’ pass with 13 minutes remaining.
Brentford finally got on the scoresheet with five minutes left when Toney prodded home after a goalmouth scramble, but by then the damage had been done.