Fulham 0-3 Manchester United: Paul Pogba fires United into top four

Paul Pogba scored twice as Manchester United extended their unbeaten start under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to 11 games with a 3-0 win at Fulham.

Pogba rifled United into the lead with a devastating near-post finish on 14 minutes before Anthony Martial got in on the act with a brilliant solo effort, reminiscent of Cristiano Ronaldo’s strike at Craven Cottage in 2007.

Fulham started brightly and could have taken the lead through Luciano Vietto and Andre Schurrle, but United’s quickfire goals knocked the wind out of their sails, with Pogba adding a third from the penalty spot midway through the second half.

United were 11 points off the Premier League’s top four when Solskjaer took over, but their 10th victory of his interim tenure has moved them into the top four for the first time since the opening weekend of the season. Fulham remain second from bottom, seven points from safety with just 12 games remaining.

Player ratings
Fulham: Rico (4), Odoi (3), Le Marchand (3), Ream (5), Bryan (5), Schurrle (5), Chambers (5), Seri (4), Vietto (5), Babel (4), Mitrovic (5).

Subs: Christie (5), Cairney (n/a), Sessegnon (n/a)

Man Utd: De Gea (6), Dalot (7), Jones (8), Smalling (8), Shaw (7), Herrera (8), Matic (7), Mata (7), Pogba (9), Martial (9), Lukaku (6).

Subs: Sanchez (6), McTominay (6), Bailly (n/a)

Man of the Match: Paul Pogba
With an eye perhaps on Tuesday’s Champions League showdown with PSG, Solskjaer made no fewer than six changes, a decision which almost backfired as United took their time to settle and invited early pressure from Fulham.

Luciano Vietto should have scored inside two minutes, but he dragged wide from Andre Schurrle’s cross, and two minutes later the German blazed over from 12 yards after an Aleksandar Mitrovic header was not sufficiently cleared.

United took full advantage of their reprieve though, with Martial threading Pogba, who was kept onside by Joe Bryan, through on goal, and the midfielder emphatically fired past Sergio Rico at his near post inside a quarter of an hour.

One quickly became two as Martial picked up the ball inside his own half, drove 60 yards to get away from Denis Odoi and Maxime Le Marchand and put United in control with a clinical finish past Rico.
Having provided Martial with the ball for his goal, Phil Jones nearly added a goal to his assist with a thunderous left-footed drive, but Rico denied the centre-back his first goal since March 2014.

Calum Chambers’ 18-yard drive was thwarted by David de Gea before the break, but Fulham offered little else in terms of an attacking threat before their defensive fragility haunted them once again.

Romelu Lukaku squared the ball to Juan Mata at the end of the dart in Fulham territory, Le Marchand bundled the Spaniard to ground in the area and Pogba was presented with the chance to double his tally from the spot. Rico dived the right way but Pogba’s effort found the far corner.

United will face sterner challenges this season, notably PSG on Tuesday, but yet again Solskjaer has proven he is the man with all of the answers for United.

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