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Ratings: Paul Pogba orchestrates Manchester United to a 3-0 victory over Stoke

Manchester United beat Stoke City 2-0 at Old Trafford in the Premier League on Monday evening. It took just nine minutes for United to take the lead after Antonio Valencia fired his shot past Jack Butland with his left foot after Paul Pogba set the Ecuadorian up with his eighth Premier League assist of the season. Stoke then started to get back into the game, and in some instances, David De Gea kept them out of it.

United spent much of the first half of the game attacking with Stoke getting some action at the other end of the pitch. United doubled their lead in the 38th minute of the match with Anthony Martial scoring his tenth goal of the season, Pogba assisting again – his ninth assist of the Premier League season.

United started the second half in the same form as they ended the first, pressuring this manager-less Stoke side. Juan Mata found the back of the net but it was ruled out for offside. United did find a third through Romelu Lukaku, who scored his 17th goal of the season in the 72nd minute, assisted by Martial.

United made a double substitution in the 80th minute with Marouane Fellaini and Marcus Rashford replacing Jesse Lingard and Martial, the Frenchman a contender for the Man of the Match award. In the 83rd minute of the match, Jose Mourinho made his third and final substitution with Scott McTominay replacing Mata.

Pogba, the Man of the Match for me with two assists and his continued drive in midfield, tried to set up a third goal of the evening, sending the ball into the box for Rashford in the 85th minute, the 20-year-olds flick being thwarted by Butland. United has risen to the challenge, whether it is because of their warm-weather training camp in Dubai or an impending transfer into the club, who knows.

United ended the match with a 3-0 victory, another three points and more importantly, three points to cut the deficit from 15 points to 12 points after 23 matches this season. I don’t imagine City to be flustered by this but another defeat or even a run of matches in which they drop points could see complacency hit. The season is not over yet. Not by a long shot!

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Man of the Match: Paul Pogba

The Frenchman showed his class against this Stoke City side. His two assists in the first half took him to nine assists in the Premier League this season, in the 13 matches he has played a part in. Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne and Leroy Sane both have nine assists in the league this season but with the former playing 23 times and the latter playing 21 times.

Pogba is the player who has it all and is a big miss for United when he is not a part of the team, whether it be because of injury or suspension – both of which have seen him miss many matches this season. No matter what people like Graeme Souness say, Paul Pogba has what it takes to achieve things at the highest level of the game.

Manchester United

1 David De Gea

The Spanish number one had a good game. Made one great save thwarting Shaqiri's effort - yet did not have much to do for much of the match.

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25 Antonio Valencia

Scored the opening goal of the match from his left foot, assisted by Pogba. Did what was needed during the match.

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4 Phil Jones

Put in a great block to deny Stoke from a goalscoring opportunity. Defended well. Good to see him play to this standard.

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12 Chris Smalling

The England man was put under pressure at times, but did well to overcome that pressure.

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23 Luke Shaw

It was another strong performance for Shaw, but there is still a bit of a way to go before he really hits the best of his abilities. Can't fault him though, he really got stuck into the game.

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31 Nemanja Matic

The Serbian did well against Stoke but he did have a few moments where it could have been a moment to forget for United. Overcame that though and helped his side take the win.

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6 Paul Pogba

Man of the Match for me. Two assists, both in the first half for Valencia and Martial. Continued to show his class throughout the game. He really is the real deal, not that many will see that as he plays for United.

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8 Juan Mata

The Spanish magician gave his side lots of creativity and was very busy with United showing an attacking performance. Was accused of diving, but actually slipped, not that it matter to the Stoke fans who abused anyway, bless them. They can't help being from Stoke.

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14 Jesse Lingard

Put in a decent display in the victory and played a great dummy for Valencia's goal. He will still get slated, but continues to give his all for his club, a club he loves and wants to succeed at.

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11 Anthony Martial

The Frenchman was a contender for Man of the Match, but was beaten by Pogba in this match. He gave Stoke's defence a tough game which his brilliance. His stroke on goal was sublime to put United 2-0 up.

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9 Romelu Lukaku

United £75 million summer signing scored his 17th goal of the season with a great strike to beat Butland. He needs to get involved with the opposition defence a little more. Good to see him back scoring though.

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Substitutes

27 Marouane Fellaini

Replaced Lingard 80'. Came on to give United more midfield strength and physicality. He may be counting down the matches at United though.

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10 Marcus Rashford

Replaced Marial 80'. Unlucky not to get a goal within minutes of coming on but Butland thwarted the effort.

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39 Scott McTominay

Replaced Mata 83'. Came on late and got stuck in. Not enough time to get his hands on the game though.

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Goals: Antonio Valencia 9′, Anthony Martial 38′, Romelu Lukaku 72′

Assists: Paul Pogba 9′, 38′, Anthony Martial 72′

Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Jones, Smalling, Shaw; Matic, Pogba; Mata (McTominay 83′), Lingard (Fellaini 80′), Martial (Rashford 80′); Lukaku

Substitutes Not Used: J. Pereira; Lindelof, Rojo; Herrera

Bookings: Jesse Lingard 63′, Romelu Lukaku 68′

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