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Ratings: Manchester United 4-1 Leicester City – Premier League 2016/17

Manchester United clicked into form and rallied in the first half to win 4-1 from three set-piece goals. Chris Smalling’s corner goal was added to when Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba nodded home from corner flag efforts that raised the confidence at the club. Between Smalling and Rashford’s efforts was a phenomenal team effort finished with a Mata half-volley, completely stunning Leicester’s defence and raising the melancholy mood at Old Trafford. Demarai Gray came on and produced an excellent performance, scoring a blinder of a goal in the second half from outside the box.

Daley Blind was excellent again and Juan Mata was one of the best players on the pitch, but the man of the match award was handed to Paul Pogba, who took his goal superbly and completely dominated in midfield. Ander Herrera provided the steel needed for Pogba and Mata to change the game in attack. Rashford’s goal and Lingard’s assist will have vastly improved their slowly rising stock. United, normally dependent on Luke Shaw and Anthony Martial, looks finally able to give both a rest for a little while, as fatigue has affected both their performances and recent injuries. The Red Devils finally showed signs of making a squad out of this deep, young team, and Mourinho’s foundations all kicked into gear after the exclusion of underperforming captain, Wayne Rooney.

Goals: Chris Smalling 22, Juan Mata 37, Marcus Rashford 40′, Paul Pogba 42′

Assists: Jesse Lingard 37′, Juan Mata 40′, Daley Blind 22′, 42′

Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Smalling, Bailly, Blind; Herrera, Pogba; Lingard (Carrick 78′), Mata (Young 87′), Rashford (Rooney 83′); Ibrahimovic

Substitutes Not Used: Romero; Fosu-Mensah, Rojo; Fellaini

Manchester United

1 David De Gea

Important in distributing the ball when Smalling and Bailly were unable or reluctant to do so. Also made a key stop from Gray to prevent him from getting his second.

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25 Antonio Valencia

Unable to influence the match going forward and the goal conceded was from his wing. Other right-backs in the squad aren’t yet doing anything to earn a place, and he was good enough.

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12 Chris Smalling

Looked unassured on the ball but ultimately did his job. Scored a towering header to get United going.

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3 Eric Bailly

Allowed United to attack because he was constantly winning the ball back. Assured, driving and passionate as usual.

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17 Daley Blind

Blind is like a mouse trap. He gets targeted by the opposition and they get stuck in and die out. In this case, it was Jamie Vardy, who was hooked at half-time. Also picked up two assists from corners and created Rashford’s goal.

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21 Ander Herrera

Showed Fellaini how it’s done. Incredibly clever to make interceptions, superb passing to create chances, and the ability to get stuck in and drive United forward. Offers insane tenacity.

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6 Paul Pogba

Excellent performance without a doubt. Slaloming runs combined with control of the game and completed more passes than anyone on the pitch. Took his first goal incredibly well.

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14 Jesse Lingard

Worked hard, picked up a great assist and ran in behind Ibrahimovic from the Swede’s shoulder. Couldn’t tell whether he or Mata played right-wing because of the incredible running.

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8 Juan Mata

Lingard’s running allowed him to be freed on the right and in the middle, and his true creativity and running showed for the first time in a United shirt. Grabbed a goal and an assist and caused loads of problems. Replaced by Young.

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19 Marcus Rashford

Threatened with his running and energy, as usual. Was in a good position to take his goal. Replaced by Rooney.

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9 Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Missed a couple of chances. His key movements into deeper areas were better capitalized by Lingard than Rooney. Very important to the system because of his aerial threat.

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Substitutes

16 Michael Carrick

Replaced Lingard. Replaced Lingard. Didn’t have much time to influence the game, but pressed well when called upon.

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10 Wayne Rooney

Replaced Rashford. Replaced Rashford. Got a healthy ovation from United fans, which was nice, but he can’t start anymore.

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18 Ashley Young

Replaced Mata. Replaced Mata. Had almost no time to influence the game at all.

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