Manchester United cruised to victory
Manchester United are in the mood, they are among the most clinical sides around.
A good performance from the visitors in the first period would have left new manager Paul Lambert pleased with what he witnessed from the stands, but it was not enough to get something out of Old Trafford. And Stoke had their chances. After Antonio Valencia put Manchester United ahead with a superb left-footed effort, the Potters reacted well and pushed up the pitch, but they lacked the edge the Red Devils seem to have in abundance when in the right mind-set.
Pogba was magical in midfield again and the Frenchman was instrumental in the build-up to United's first two goals. He spreaded the play out to the right flank for Valencia in the first goal, though the Ecuatorian still had plenty to do, cutting inside and swinging a delightful strikeinto the top far corner. Martial also benefitted from his compatriot's inspired performance, sweeping a spectacular right-footed finish into the top right corner.
Lukaku worked well on the wing, shifting it back for Pogba who spotted Martial unmarked on the edge of the area. Chances at the other end lacked the finish required to beat a goalkeeper of David De Gea's standards, the Spanish stopper keeping out a low Shaqiri effort to maintain his side's two-goal cushion at the stroke of half-time. It could have been a very different story if Stoke had actually capitalised on their chances before the break. Stephen Ireland, making his first start in the Premier League for nearly three years, was twice granted chances inside the box, picking up the ball in acres of space and firing wide of the mark.
The biggest chance for the visitors came after 25 minutes, Crouch beating De Gea to the long ball and Choupo-Moting flying in with the goal gaping, only for his finish to deflect off Phil Jones and inches wide. - Dominant Red Devils - But the hosts managed to take the sting out of Stoke who, for all their efforts in the first half, struggled to get a touch of the ball in the second. Jose Mourinho's half-time team-talk certainly worked, and his players responded by keeping the ball brilliantly and piling pressure on Jack Butland's goal. The Stoke goalkeeper was key in avoiding a more humiliating defeat for his side at Old Trafford, with the Stoke defenders presenting little opposition as the game went on. Pogba was denied a much-deserved goal, while Martial was unable to double his personal tally, but Romelu Lukaku scored the goal to end his own drought. It was evident how much it meant to the Belgian striker as he held off two defenders and fired a low effort into the corner to ease frustrations.
The Red Devils could have scored more but at the final whistle the scoreline read 3-0 after a commanding display to cut the gap with Manchester City down to 12 points.