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Manchester United 3-0 Tottenham Hotspur: Impressive United record deserved victory

It was like having the old United back. Sort of.

Michael Regan/Getty Images

Manchester United turned in perhaps their best competitive performance under Louis van Gaal on Sunday, seeing off Tottenham Hotspur 3-0 at Old Trafford. It was an uncharacteristic display of pace and purpose, with the Red Devils killing their opponents off with three goals in a whirlwind first half.

United very nearly went behind in calamitous fashion after just a few minutes when a Phil Jones backpass was only kept out by a sliding David de Gea, though that was the only real wobble of an outstanding opening period. It took just nine minutes for Marouane Fellaini to take advantage of a fine Michael Carrick through ball to rifle the Reds ahead, and after that, there was no looking back.

10 minutes after the opener, Carrick added a second; the midfielder taking advantage of a half-hearted corner clearance by Nacer Chadli by powering the ball back beyond goalkeeper Hugo Lloris and into the net. So comfortable did United look that Spurs were forced into a humiliating half-hour change, with Mousa Dembélé entering in place of Andros Townsend.

But unfortunately for Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino, not even that radical move improved things. With just over 10 minutes of the half left, a terrible midfield giveaway by Nabil Bentaleb allowed Wayne Rooney to pounce, with the striker proceeding to drive beyond Eric Dier and drill a low shot into the bottom corner for three.

The second half was a rather less enjoyable affair than the first, with the tempo that characterised United's early play gradually seeping. That was at least understandable -- Spurs scarcely posed a threat, and the three points were all wrapped up.

Just about the only eyebrow-raising moment of the game's remainder was the introduction of youngster Andreas Pereira for his Premier League debut inside the final 15 minutes. The reserves star -- who has been linked with a summer free transfer departure -- entered in place of the excellent Juan Mata, who headed straight down the tunnel after coming off. After one of his finest performances in a United shirt, let's hope he's not picked up anything more than a knock.

The win leaves United just a point in arrears of Arsenal and two adrift of Manchester City. What a difference a few days make.