Pogba and Martial star as Man United ease past lowly Fulham
Manchester United warmed up for their Champions League clash with Paris Saint-Germain with a comfortable 3-0 win over Fulham at Craven Cottage as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer continued his terrific start as caretaker manager.
The Norwegian rotated his squad ahead of the French champions' visit to Old Trafford on Tuesday, but United still made it 10 wins in 11 games since Jose Mourinho was dismissed in December.
Paul Pogba scored twice, surrounding a fine solo goal from Anthony Martial, to lift United into the top four for the first time since August. It was the perfect preparation for a tough run of games against PSG, Chelsea and Liverpool in three different competitions over the next two weeks.
Martial was superb on the left of United's front three and gave Fulham right-back Denis Odoi a nightmare afternoon. Martial set up the first goal for Pogba and then scored the second by himself with a run that started inside his own half. Fit again after injury, the 23-year-old made sure he has to play against PSG on Tuesday.
None. Three goals, a clean sheet and players rested ahead of a big game in the Champions League on Tuesday night. It could not have gone better.
Manager rating out of 10
8 -- The caretaker boss made six changes from the team that beat Leicester last time out but didn't touch his midfield three of Nemanja Matic, Ander Herrera and Pogba. If it was a gamble, it paid off. Once United were up 2-0 inside the first 25 minutes, the result never looked it doubt. The third goal in the second half gave Solskjaer the luxury of taking off Pogba, Martial and Ander Herrera early.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK, David De Gea, 7 -- Captain for the day. Shook off an early clattering from Aleksandar Mitrovic to keep another clean sheet.
DF, Diogo Dalot, 7 -- Solid defensively and got forward as much as he could in support of Juan Mata.
DF, Phil Jones, 8 -- Won the ball back and got a quick pass out to Martial to give the Frenchman the space to run at Fulham's defence and put United up 2-0. Almost scored with a left-foot rocket from the edge of the box.
DF, Chris Smalling, 7 -- Started a game for the first time since Dec. 8. He was on the end of two heavy tackles from Joe Bryan and Calum Chambers but won the battle with Mitrovic in the penalty area.
DF, Luke Shaw, 7 -- Good diving challenge on Andre Schurrle in the penalty area as Fulham made a fast start. Only bit of defending he had to do.
MF, Nemanja Matic, 7 -- Took a nasty kick on the knee after a challenge with Schurrle, but it didn't stop the Serbian from putting in another composed performance at the base of United's midfield.
MF, Ander Herrera, 8 -- Did enough at the back post to make sure Luciano Vietto did not get a clear sight of goal inside the opening two minutes. Won the ball back in midfield to help set up Pogba's goal.
MF, Paul Pogba, 8 -- Fierce strike with his left foot beat Sergio Rico at his near post to give United the lead inside 15 minutes. Second-half penalty made it eight goals in his last eight league appearances.
FW, Juan Mata, 7 -- Tidy on the ball around Fulham's box and won the penalty in the second half that put the game to bed.
FW, Anthony Martial, 9 -- Perfectly weighted pass into Pogba's path in the build up to United's opening goal. Fantastic run and finish to score the second. Withdrawn early in preparation for PSG.
FW, Romelu Lukaku, 6 -- Positive run forward before the award of the penalty but otherwise it looked as if United were attacking around him rather than through him.
FW Alexis Sanchez (for Martial, 69), 7 -- Great chance to score but saved by Rico.
MF Scott McTominay (for Pogba, 74) -- N/A.
DF Eric Bailly (for Herrera, 85) -- N/A.