15 December 2018
Paul Pogba was exceptional as Man United comfortably beat Stoke City, who had new boss Paul Lambert watching in the stands.
It was mostly comfortable for United, but Stoke did threaten a few times. United could’ve had a penalty early on when Anthony Martial fell in the penalty area but, the referee didn’t give it.
In the 9th minute, Antonio Valencia gave United the lead with a wonderful strike. After picking up the ball from Pogba, he cut inside onto his left foot, before curling the ball into the top left corner.
Cher dan Shaqiri tried a fantastic overhead kick which David de Gea comfortably saved. Stephen Ireland, who was starting his first game since April 2015, had two similar chances to score, but he fired both wide. Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting had a close range effort blocked by Phil Jones.
But, in the 38th minute, Anthony Martial doubled United’s lead with another brilliant goal. From another Pogba assist, as he found Martial with a neat pass, Martial curled a superb finish past Jack Butland from 20 yards.
Just before half-time Shaqiri had a really good chance to half the deficit but, de Gea got down to push away his low effort after finding space for a shot.
Juan Mata came close to extending the lead during the second half, as he fired narrowly wide after being set up by Jesse Lingard.
In the 72nd minute, Romelu Lukaku added a third. Lukaku had worked really hard during the game and his hold up play had been excellent, so he deserved a goal. He managed to make some space past two Stoke defenders in the box, before firing low and hard past Butland.
Butland had to prevent substitute Marcus Rashford from adding a third, before de Gea had to deny Mame Biram Diouf, who fired the rebound wide, to preserve his clean sheet.
As it looks like Alexis Sanchez could be heading to United, things are looking positive. Where Sanchez would fit in is a big question. All the attacking players worked well together in this game, so it would be interesting to see which player Sanchez would replace.
United remain in second place, but the gap to City has been cut to 12 points after they lost their unbeaten league record against Liverpool. Stoke remain in the relegation zone, a point adrift of fourth-bottom Southampton.
Next up for United is a tough away trip to Burnley next Saturday, the 20 January. Hopefully we can continue our winning form.