Manchester United won their first Premier League game in over a month on Saturday, seeing off basement side Fulham 4-1. Ashley Young, Juan Mata, Romelu Lukaku and Marcus Rashford were all on the scoresheet at Old Trafford, as the Reds turned in one of their most satisfying performances in a long while.
United made a confident start, with the dynamic presence of Mata and Jesse Lingard facilitating some uncharacteristically fluid football. When the opening goal came, however, it was all the work of Young. Gifted too much space out on the left, he ambled past the clumsy Denis Odoi and into the penalty area, curling into the top corner from an impressively tight angle.
The hosts’ swagger was exaggerated by Fulham’s timidity, and Claudio Ranieri’s side struggled to hold onto possession. They were punished a second time just short of the half-hour, when Lukaku drifted left and sent Rashford charging through; his pinpoint square pass was matched by the onrushing Mata’s pinpoint finish, and United doubled their lead.
If the second was the product of a slick and spontaneous counter, the third was the result of training ground precision. A short corner saw Mata and Lingard exchange passes, before the former squared for Lukaku to notch his first goal at Old Trafford since March. United went in at the break three up, and playing well for the first time in all too long.
Ranieri reshuffled at the interval, and Fulham came out after the restart with more intensity. Half-chances flowed at both ends before the visitors pulled a goal back, Aboubakar Kamara converting a penalty gifted by referee Lee Probert after the French forward was brought down by Ander Herrera. Replays suggested it was a clean challenge.
Fulham’s chances of clawing their way back into the game were swiftly dashed, however, when rangy midfielder André-Frank Zambo Anguissa ended up in a tangle with Rashford. Both players were booked, Anguissa for the second time, and the Cottagers were reduced to 10 men.
From there, the question was less if than by how many. United squandered a few good opportunities to net a fourth before Rashford finally did the business, and it wasn’t one that Cottagers keeper Sergio Rico will be keen to see again. The striker cut inside onto his right foot, and lashed a dipping shot from the edge of the box inside the near post. It was all too easy — but we’re not complaining.