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MOTM: Fellaini the star man after Palace double, Rashford and Mata also shine in victory

Manchester United produced yet another 4-0 victory as they swept a bewildered Crystal Palace aside at Old Trafford. The win sees the Red Devils return to the summit of the Premier League for a couple of hours at least, depending on how Manchester City do at Stamford Bridge in the late kick-off. The scoring was opened in just the third minute when some sublime skill from Marcus Rashford allowed him to leave Joel Ward in his wake and set up Juan Mata for his first goal of the season. Marouane Fellaini added the second in the 35th minute, as he got on the end of a pinpoint Ashley Young cross for a relatively simple finish. The third came just minutes after half-time when Fellaini headed home a fierce Rashford free-kick to put United in cruise control. Romelu Lukaku had a relatively quiet game but got his customary goal in the 86th minute as he tapped in a Martial cutback. Several players put in effective shifts for the side.

Marouane Fellaini

There was a time when the big Belgian was public enemy number one around Old Trafford. He himself bemoaned the way that he was ‘scapegoated’ by the fans and media alike, but those days appear to be long gone. Jose Mourinho recently admitted that Fellaini is an invaluable cog in the United machine, and on today’s evidence it is easy to see why. The former Everton midfielder contributed two goals against Crystal Palace, with the first coming in the 35th minute. Ashley Young cut inside and provided a trademark exquisite cross from the left, which Fellaini side-footed home at the back post after a marauding run into the area. His second came just three minutes after the restart. Milovojevic fouled Young just outside the box by the touchline on the left, and Rashford battered his free-kick towards the six-yard area, leaving Fellaini with a simple header past Wayne Hennessey. It was not just the goals though, his overall play was superb – providing some good passes from midfield into the final third. He is proving to be just as useful with his feet as he is with his head. Today’s star man.

Marcus Rashford

The battle for the left side of United’s attacking unit of three continues, with both Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial continuing to perform whenever called upon. Rashford was given the nod by Mourinho today despite Martial’s majestic Champions League showing in Moscow, and the English youngster did not disappoint, adding two assists to his ever-improving statistics. The first came in just the third minute when he produced a fantastic piece of skill to skip past Joel Ward on the left before putting the ball on a plate for Juan Mata who made no mistake from twelve yards out. Rashford’s second assist came in the 48th minute when his powerful free-kick from the edge of the area near the byline was glanced home by the head of Fellaini. Aside from the assists, Rashford was a constant menace on the left side all through the game before he was replaced by (who else) Martial in the 72nd minute. His pace and determination gave Joel Ward all sorts of problems, and the England international looks to be improving every time he pulls on the shirt. He is unlucky to lose out to Fellaini for today’s award, but he came close after a stellar display.

Juan Mata

The diminutive Spaniard has been relatively quiet on the scoring and assisting front so far this season, but he finally managed his first goal of the season after a professional finish from Rashford’s concise pass. The former Chelsea man has been instrumental on the right and in the middle so far this year, and this will undoubtedly please the manager, who infamously sold him to United from Stamford Bridge. Mata has been a favourite of Mourinho so far this season after some positive performances, and the goal will do his confidence the world of good as we enter a stage of the season when fixtures begin to pile up.

Conclusion

Marouane Fellaini’s double sees him awarded today’s Man of the Match award, with honourable mentions going to Marcus Rashford and Juan Mata. The win puts United back at the top of the Premier League, and the four goals sees their goal difference go level with neighbours Manchester City, although the Citizens have a tough game against Chelsea this evening. Overall, we continue seeing professional and efficient performances from the Red Devils, coming just days after a magnificent win against CSKA Moscow in the Champions League. The international break comes next, before a congested run of fixtures through October and November.

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