Report: Fellaini, Lingard and Valencia fire United into fifth

Manchester United beat Middlesbrough 3-1 at the Riverside with Marouane Fellaini scoring the opening goa in the 30th minute of the match. Jesse Lingard then doubled Unite’s lead with a stunning goal in the 62nd minute, before Rudy Gestede got one back for Boro in the 77th minute. Antonio Valencia scored a third with Victor Valdes on the floor in the dying minutes of the match to secure the victory and rise United up to fifth in the Premier League, sending Arsenal into sixth place.

Jose Mourinho made seven changes from the Rostov match with David De Gea, Phil Jones, Michael Carrick, Marouane Fellaini, Ashley Young, Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard all being involved from the start today. One thing is for certain, Manchester United will not end up in sixth place by the end of today; they will either remain in seventh where they started the day or in fifth place, which is what needs to be happening. United started well from the off, getting a chance through Marcus Rashford who forced Victor Valdes into a low save. Eight minutes later, Middlesbrough had their first chance through Gaston Ramirez with David De Gea parrying his curling effort.

The home side has more possession in the opening fifteen minutes of the match, but a chance to each makes it a fair fight so far. United are missing some creative influence with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Ander Herrera, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Anthony Martial all not starting, but the two not suspended are on the bench, should they be needed. United had another great chance in the 23rd minute but Valdes made a double save with both Marcus Rashford and Antonio Valencia both attempting to break the deadlock, unlucky. Michael Carrick tried to get something the attack also, firing over the crossbar. Juan Mata’s positioning was good in that attack.

Phil Jones found himself with a booking for a challenge on Alvaro Negredo in the 25th minute of the match, nothing came of the resulting free-kick. In the 30th minute of the match, after repeated attacks from United with players sneaking in at the back, United took the lead through a Marouane Fellaini header, assisted by Ashley Young. United maintained their attacking style after the goal, seemingly looking to double their lead. Jesse Lingard fired a long-range effort towards goal, which was deflected for a corner. United were unable to gain anything from the corner.

The first half ended with United 1-0 up through Fellaini, but also having ten shot; four of those on target, three off target and three being blocked. Mourinho’s side played well in the first half, despite having less than 40% of the ball, getting more chances in the important areas. The void left by Ander Herrera and Paul Pogba is visible, as United’s passing and possession is not so good. Maybe those who have been writing Pogba off as a failure need to take note of that. United need to put this match to bed in the second half with Boro passing eight hours since their last goal in the Premier League.

United started the second half well. although Chris Smalling could have had egg on his face as he attempted a diving header towards De Gea, missing it completely, presumably to not concede a back pass. United recovered from that, though, getting forward, but not yet threatening the home side like they should be doing. United, after a period of good play, doubled their lead through Jesse Lingard with a stunning strike into the top corner, assisted by Juan Mata. United were now cruising towards the victory they needed to take advantage of the demise of Arsenal, which we all saw coming. Boro had a chance at the other end moments later, De Gea stopped it.

In the 69th minute, United made their first change with Marcos Rojo replacing Juan Mata. The Argentinian had some defending to do from his first minute on the pitch in having to defend a Boro set piece, which came to nothing. Boro seemed to find some inspiration late in the game with plenty of attacking play against United, just nothing came of it. United had few chances, seemingly looking to defend their lead after doubling it. Boro got a goal back in the 77th minute of the match through Rudy Gestede after Smalling failed to clear his line. United now needed to keep their heads and the lead. Boro were more resurgent on the attack, deservedly so.

Mourinho made his second change with Anthony Martial replacing Lingard, who seemed to be carrying a slight injury. Martial’s quick feet and ability to beat his man, cut in and score might well be needed in the latter stages of the match with United holding onto their lead by the skin of their teeth, especially with Smalling in the middle of defence having the ability to mess things up for United. There was a bit of beef between Gestede and Eric Bailly in the dying stages of the game with a ticking off for Bailly from Jonathan Moss, not sure what Gestede was told. United scored a third goal with Antonio Valencia rounding Victor Valdes, who did a Gerrard to give United a 3-1 victory. Matteo Darmian replaced

United scored a third goal with Antonio Valencia rounding Victor Valdes, who did a Gerrard to give United a 3-1 victory. Matteo Darmian replaced Rashford two minutes into injury time. United moved up to fifth place in the Premier League now heading into a period of rest for many squad members and time to get ready for April, which will see United play nine matches, first up with West Bromwich Albion visiting Old Trafford.

Goals: Marouane Fellaini 30′, Jesse Lingard 62′

Assists: Ashley Young 30′, Juan Mata 62′

Manchester United: De Gea; Smalling, Jones, Bailly; Valencia, Carrick, Fellaini, Young; Mata (Rojo 69′), Rashford (Darmian 90+2′), Lingard (Martial 80′)

Substitutes Not Used: Romero; Fosu-Mensah, Shaw; Mkhitaryan

Bookings: Phil Jones 25′

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