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Ratings: Martial and Pogba do the business for United

Manchester United beat Middlesbrough 2-1 after a very controversial match, in which Untied was denied many clear chances to score. United, after four wins in a row, were prepared to host Middlesbrough at Old Trafford with excitement, but questions were asked of Jose Mourinho when Chris Smalling and Marouane Fellaini were included on the team sheet to start the match. However, Middlesbrough’s deep defence became the story in the first half, as two post-smashing moments and a wrongly disallowed goal from Zlatan Ibrahimovic headlined the Old Trafford boos at half-time.

In the second half, Middlesbrough capitalised off an error from the aforementioned Smalling, and Grand Leadbitter put them ahead at Old Trafford with their first shot. United’s substitutions, Juan Mata and Marcus Rashford, came on to provide width, allowing United’s star wingers, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Anthony Martial, to occupy central areas. Wrongly denied two penalties in the late stages of the second half, United began to wonder if it would be one of those days, but Martial and Pogba quickly silenced those claims with excellent goals that sealed the match in very late stages. United will take comfort from the fact they finally won a match without Michael Carrick.

Manchester United

1 David De Gea

Conceded a shot on target and a goal, though it wasn’t his fault.

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25 Antonio Valencia

Didn’t do anything in the match, and had nothing to do with the goal. Provided good width.

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12 Chris Smalling

Played poorly, failing to pass the ball forward and looking all kinds of suspicious for the goal.

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3 Eric Bailly

Good to see him back, and he did his job, winning the ball back and slowly distributing the ball into better areas.

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17 Daley Blind

Struggled against Adama Traore, but ultimately didn’t let the winger influence the match. Blind had to be substituted because he picked up a yellow card. Replaced by Rojo.

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27 Marouane Fellaini

Once again, he looks good, but he has no place in the system, which makes me question why he’s still playing games with Schweinsteiger, Fosu-Mensah and Schneiderlin sidelined. Replaced by Mata.

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21 Ander Herrera

Again, did his job, and sprayed the ball well, without doing anything special.

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22 Henrikh Mkhitaryan

Once again, marvellous, and he should’ve had a few assists with his dribbling. Looks solid defensively, too, and played as more of a central midfielder with Marouane Fellaini ahead.

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6 Paul Pogba

Played excellently, showing phenomenal passing range and scoring the winning goal after going close with two bicycle kicks.

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11 Anthony Martial

The best player on the pitch as he showed his old self, deserving his goal and being rampant throughout. Martial, out of form, still has 5 goals and 3 assists so far this season, despite not playing very much. Definitely should play, he’s the best pace outlet at United by a distance.

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9 Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Wrongly denied a goal that would’ve made him top scorer in 2016, but he picked up the assist for Martial’s goal at the end.

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Substitutes

5 Marcos Rojo

Replaced Blind, and there isn’t much to say.

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8 Juan Mata

Replaced Fellaini. Picked up the assist for Pogba’s goal with a phenomenal cross. United’s attacking options are limitless!

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19 Marcus Rashford

Replaced Smalling. Provided an outlet wide, allowing Martial to move into central channels and cause further havoc.

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