The good times under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer kept on rolling for Manchester United, as the Red Devils continued their sparkling form by comfortably beating Fulham 3-0 at Craven Cottage.
After surviving a shaky start, United would grab the lead through Paul Pogba before Anthony Martial made it two before the end of the half.
A penalty at the hour mark was calmly dispatched by Pogba, and the away side were able to see the game off without any further issue, even managing to keep a clean sheet.
It would be the home side who started the match on the front foot, with Fulham missing a number of quality chances early on.
Luciano Vietto should’ve done better with a volley a few yards from goal, and Aleksandar Mitrovic fluffed his lines on a seemingly easy header in the penalty area.
However, it was United who took the lead at the quarter hour mark, with Pogba opening the scoring on the day. Played down the wing by Martial, everyone was waiting in the middle for a low cross across the penalty area.
The World Cup winner had other ideas, however, slamming a shot towards the near post with his weaker left foot. Fulham goalkeeper Sergio Rico was caught off guard, and all he could do was watch the ball fly past him into the back of the net.
The advantage would be doubled less than ten minutes later after some sublime play from Martial. Picking up the ball near the halfway line, the Frenchman was able to get inside of his marker. Dancing past a lunging challenge from a Fulham centre back, Martial saw himself through on goal.
It would be the same old story from that point on, as the winger simply opened up his hips and placed his finish into the bottom corner.
The game would be put to bed at the hour mark, with Pogba grabbing his brace from the spot. Juan Mata was clobbered down in the area on the counter-attack, and the referee had no other choice than to award United a penalty.
Pogba picked the ball up, put it on the spot, and rifled one past Rico, who even dove the right away.
United were able to simply control the game until the end, preventing Fulham from creating any chance of a late comeback. The result moved the Red Devils into the top 4 for the first time since the opening week of the season and continued the ever-growing unbeaten streak of new boss Solskjaer.
Takeaways from the match
Successful squad rotation ahead of crucial midweek clash
With a crucial Champions League matchup coming up on Tuesday, Solskjaer decided to rest a number of key players for today’s fixture. Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard, and Victor Lindelof we’re kept on the bench in order to keep them fresh for the game against PSG.
Making several changes to the team could spell trouble for some, but the Red Devils were able to get the job done regardless, even putting the game out of reach as early as the hour mark.
Able to just control the contest from that point onward, there should be little fear of tired legs come Tuesday night.
Spanish pair immense once again
The French connection of Martial and Pogba will understandably grab most of the headlines, but it was a pair of Spaniards who were just as crucial in securing victory against Fulham.
Ander Herrera, who has become a mainstay in the team under Solskjaer, proved he’s more than just a defensive-minded midfielder. He did track back whenever needed, of course, but it was his attacking prowess that was on show today.
Able to find pockets of space in the final third of the area, Herrera’s late runs were a nightmare for Fulham to deal with. He smashed a volley that was well kept out by Rico and played a number of clever passes in the final third.
Mata was given a chance in the starting XI due to squad rotation and was able to make the most of his opportunity. He’s far from the fastest player, but the diminutive Spaniard makes up for it in his sheer technical ability.
As a false winger of sorts, Mata was able to cut inside and link together United attacking moves. He would go on to win the penalty, cutting inside with a brilliant piece of skill before being hacked down.
Both players are still on contracts that expire at the end of the season, but with performances like these, it’d be no surprise to see Mata and Herrera sign extensions before the campaign comes to a close.
Man of the Match: Paul Pogba
It was just one of those days for Pogba, who was simply unstoppable. His opening goal was expertly taken, and his second from the spot put the game to bed.
Dancing past challenge after challenge, it was the Frenchman at his best. He’s a world-beater once again, and the sky's the limit for Pogba under Solskjaer.