Manchester United dominated Stoke City Monday night at Old Trafford in a 3-0 victory for Jose Mourinho's men.
While the buzz around Old Trafford before the match was mostly about the possible signing of Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez, Paul Pogba and co. made sure that the supporters enjoyed the current crop of players already at the club.
Antonio Valencia unveiled his left foot to the Premier League, only nine years after joining Manchester United, when he placed a perfect shot off the right flank past Jack Butland and into the top left corner. United’s ninth minute goal allowed the hosts to settle in nicely, especially for a side that has failed to score early in matches in recent weeks.
United were left lucky to go unscathed on back to back chances by Stoke’s Stephen Ireland in the 16th and 21st minutes. The Potters’ midfielder went just a bit wide left on both opportunities from the center of the box, failing to hit David De Gea’s goal.
The visitors had another opportunity to go level in the 25th minute. David De Gea failed to win a jump ball on the edge of his six-yard box, and Stoke’s Eric Chuopo-Moting had a deflected shot at the goalmouth skim off the bar and for a corner.
Anthony Martial’s stunning 38th minute goal gave United a 2-0 lead. Romelu Lukaku passed to Paul Pogba, who slid the ball across the top of the box where Martial placed the ball into the top right corner, giving Butland no chance at making a save.
Despite United’s tendency to give Stoke opportunities in-between goals, Paul Pogba had a masterclass first 45 minutes, which included two assists.
While the news began to spread around the ground that crosstown rivals Manchester City had pulled out of the race to sign Alexis Sanchez, Manchester United asserted their dominance over a reeling Stoke City squad throughout the entire second half. While the hosts held most possession and created chance after chance, the Potters failed to create anything in the final third, giving David De Gea with very little do worry about.
Anthony Martial almost had a brace in the 59th minute, as fellow Frenchmen Paul Pogba placed a beautiful cross box pass, but Martial’s eventual try at goal went into the hands of Jack Butland.
Juan Mata had three great chances at goal in the span of four minutes. The Spaniard went just wide from the right flank in the 62nd minute, failing to complete a rapid United counter attack.
Two minutes later Jesse Lingard played the role of a holding striker, but Mata’s blasted his one time shot over the bar from inside the box. Lingard and Mata combined for another chance just one minute later, but Mata’s flick into the net from Lingard’s shot was ruled offside.
Romelu Lukaku gave the Red Devils a third goal in the 72 minute. Paul Pogba intercepted Stoke’s pass at midfield, allowing Lingard to counter attack. Lingard laid the pass off for Martial, who put a bullet pass into Lukaku in the box. Despite being hounded by two Stoke defenders, the Belgium striker quickly turned and put it past Butland.
Mame Biram Diouf had a glorious chance to pull one back for Stoke within the final ten minutes. Left unmarked in the box, his first shot was kick saved by De Gea, while a second chance on the rebound went wide, pretty much summing up Stoke's night.