Manchester United picked up their second win in the matter of four days to leave talk of a crisis of confidence at the club a distant memory, this time thrashing Premier League Champions Leicester City 4-1 at Old Trafford.
All of United’s goals came in a fantastic first half that saw the Red Devils show glimpses of the magical football that they were known for in years past. Interestingly, United’s best performance of the season thus far was also possible without their skipper Wayne Rooney, who was left on the bench for today’s outing allowing the Manchester United to play a more fluid system which saw Juan Mata popping up where he pleased in the front third and Paul Pogba running ahead of the strikers as he looked to influence play.
United were easily the better side in the opening exchanges but it took them 22 minutes to open the scoring with Chris Smalling outmuscling his marker in the box to make Daley Blind’s corner his, and planting a downward header which former Man United academy product Ron-Robert Zieler could only palm into his own net.
The goal seemed to calm United down and the football began to flow a lot more fluently as the Red Devils knocked it around leaving Leicester chasing shadows.
Then in a 5 minute spell towards the end of the half, United turned on the style, grabbing three goals to kill the game as a contest.
Juan Mata was the first to strike, starting and finishing a terrific team move that included touches for Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford before the Spaniard smashed the ball home from inside the box, showing fantastic technique.
Three minutes later, Rashford made it 3-0, getting on the end of a quickly taken corner as Leicester were caught sleeping. Blind whipped in a low cross while Leicester were still arranging themselves in the box, and an alert Juan Mata laid the ball on a plate for the young English striker to slide home from a yard out.
And after another couple of minutes, United were four goals to the good as Paul Pogba grabbed his first goal for the former champions, planting yet another header from a corner past Zieler as Christian Fuchs was completely bossed in the air by the powerful Frenchman.
The second half was all about damage limitation for Leicester City, who withdrew last season’s superstars Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez to throw on Demarai Gray and Andy King, quite possibly with one eye on their Champions League clash with FC Porto in midweek.
The visitors did grab a consolation goal just before the hour mark as Gray unleashed an unstoppable effort past David de Gea and into the back of the net to add some respectability to the scoreline.
The win propels United to third place in the Premier League standings with 12 points, 3 shy of local rivals Manchester City, who take on Swansea City later today. Up next for the Red Devils is the visit of Ukrainian side FC Zorya Luhansk in the Europa League on Thursday.