Report: Four goals against Fulham was just a confidence booster as Manchester United were back to winning ways

Manchester United beat Fulham 4-1 in the Premier League at Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon. Ashley Young, Juan Mata and Romelu Lukaku were all on the scoresheet with Marcus Rashford assisting the first two goals and Mata assisting the third. Fulham won a penalty in the 66th minute with Aboubakar Kamara scoring from the spot. United restored their three-goal lead with Rashford scoring in the 82nd minute.

It was a good start to the game for both United and Fulham. Marcus Rashford came alive in the sixth minute, twisting and turning in the Fulham box. However, the visitors managed to avert the danger. Ashley Young had the ball played back to him but his cross was headed into the air before Sergio Rico gathered the ball. United were peppering crosses into the box, which takes me back to the last meeting between the two sides about four years ago.

United took the lead in the game in the 13th minute of the match with the captain, Ashley Young scoring from a stunning strike. The ball was played forward with Young on the left. He then looked to play his cross but took Denis Odoi on, nutmegging the Belgian before firing his effort into the top corner from a narrow angle. United had scored the opening goal in the game and looked very lively. Another assist for Rashford. A good day for Jose Mourinho?

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Fulham had so far conceded 37 goals this season and this was their 16th game. United had started to get plenty of joy on either side of the pitch. Nemanja Matic played a good ball over to Young, who was urged by the Old Trafford crowd to shoot but the captain crossed the ball and won a corner for United. Moments later, Diogo Dalot played in a cross which found Chris Smalling but his header deflected wide of the target with United winning another corner.

United nearly made it 2-0 after the ball fell for Dalot 25-yards out but his volley was not on target. Fulham had a chance in the 21st minute of the match after Tom Cairney played the ball to Aleksander Mitrovic, who nutmegged Jesse Lingard on the 18-yard line, opened up some space to shoot but the shot was too tame with David De Gea making a simple stop. United then had a shot blocked in the 22nd minute with Romelu Lukaku setting up Young, whose flick was blocked at the back post.

United doubled their lead in the 28th minute through Juan Mata, his 50th Premier League goal, once again assisted by Rashford. Lukaku played the ball to Rashford down the left, his cross found Mata whose first-time effort nestled into the bottom corner with Rico beyond reach to avert the goal. United seemed to be full of confidence in this game and there was no Paul Pogba on the pitch. Can’t help but wonder if he was one of the problems with this team seeming so lacklustre this season?

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Mourinho seemed happy on the sidelines, clearly being shown by his squad that they did have the desire and hunger he spoke about ahead of this game. United keep pummelling this Fulham side, seemingly seeking more goals. United had another big chance with Rashford showing his confidence, talent and his attacking mentality. It was a big save for Fulham though. United had a third in the net just before half-time.

Lukaku was the scorer, scoring his first Old Trafford goal for some time. Young played the corner short to Mata, who then rolled the ball to Lingard. Lingard then found Mata, who was just onside running into the box, rolls the ball to the Belgian, who buried his effort. United were 3-0 up and cruising in this match. It will put them into a positive goal difference and see them rise in the table, at last. Three minutes were played at the end of the half.

Fulham manager Claudio Ranieri made a double substitution at the start of the second half with Aboubakar Kamara and Luciano Vietto replacing Cairney and Mitrovic. It did not do much as United were still seeking to open up the game with more goals. Rashford had a good chance to create something from a shot and a parried effort from Rico saw Lukaku receive the ball but his effort was wide of the target. United were continuing to attack, which was a good sign.

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Dalot put in a great cross in the 50th minute. His terrific low ball curled perfectly but Rico denied United from capitalising by putting Lukaku off just inside the six-yard box. A few minutes later, the pace in the game slowed and Mourinho may need to make changes in order to keep his side on top. Just before the hour, Smalling seemed to be carrying a knock but he still did enough to deny Ryan Sessegnon from creating something with Andre Schurrle on the edge of the area with the ball, curling his effort over the crossbar.

Smalling was replaced by Marcos Rojo. Ander Herrera had a good chance on the hour but needed to do much better. Lukaku picked out the Spanish midfielder but he only dragged his effort wide of the far post but it seemed the chance was an easy one for Herrera. Two minutes later, Schurrle flashed his shot wide of the target but the ball did not go out of play with Fulham ending it by winning a corner, but they failed to do anything with the set-piece.

Fulham won a penalty in the 66th minute with Herrera seemingly downing Kamara. Looking at the replay, Herrera won the ball with his challenge but it also came off Kamara’s shin. It was Kamara who took the penalty and sent De Gea the wrong way. Fulham had a goal back in the game but they were still a long way out of it. 3-1. Fulham had a player sent off in the 68th minute. Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, already on a yellow, saw a second followed by the red for a challenge on Rashford.

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Jean-Michael Seri was booked in the 72nd minute for pulling back Lukaku. Mourinho made his first substitution with Fred coming on for Lingard in the 73rd minute. Fulham made their third substitution with Ibrahima Cisse replacing Schurrle. Dalot got the better of Bryan on the right but Rico got a palm onto his cross just before Lukaku could get something on it. United were playing a great team game against Fulham, one we have waited a long time to see. They need to play the same way against Valencia and Liverpool.

In the 81st minute, Fulham made a save to deny Rashford, who has to assist to his name already this afternoon. The 20-year-old skipped past two Fulham defenders and their sliding tackles before striking the ball low but Rico was too close to it, denying the forward from a goal. A minute later, Rashford got his goal. He had the ball in the corner of the area and caught Rico out with a fierce effort which snuck in at the near post. A goal and two assists.

Mourinho then made a third substitution with Scott McTominay, on his birthday, replacing Rashford, who was given a standing ovation by the Old Trafford faithful. United had another opportunity in the 85th minute after a great Dalot cross and McTominay met it but his header was straight at Rico. It was his first touch of the game. Three minutes were added at the end of the half. Fred had a late chance but was crowded out in the box. United have restored their path to winning ways. Valencia up next.

Goals: Ashley Young 13′, Juan Mata 28′, Romelu Lukaku 42′, Marcus Rashford 82′; Aboubakar Kamara 67′

Assists: Marcus Rashford 13′, 28′, Juan Mata 42′, Ashley Young 82′

Manchester United: De Gea; Dalot, Smalling (Rojo 58′), Jones, Young; Herrera, Matic; Mata, Lingard (Fred 73′), Rashford (McTominay 84′); Lukaku

Substitutes Not Used: Romero; Shaw; Pogba, Fellaini

Bookings: Diogo Dalot 45+1′; Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa 31′ sent off 68′, Jean-Michael Seri 72′

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