Manchester United have beaten Stoke City at Old Trafford by a score of 3-0. First half goals by Valencia and Martial gave United the lead, and Lukaku added a 3rd in the second half to kill off the game. Stoke created some chances, but Manchester were the better team throughout, and the scoreline was a fair reflection on how the game went.
It was a must win for United, as Stoke came into the match with terrible form, and in the relegation zone. Mourinho named an attacking lineup, as he expected his opponents to play on the defensive.
Jones partnered Smalling in the centre of defence, with Shaw on the left and Valencia returning from injury at right back. Matic was the sole defensive midfielder, with Pogba and Lingard taking up the central attacking positions. Up front, Lukaku was flanked by Martial and Mata.
United dominated to start, controlling the tempo of play. There was an early shout for a penalty when Martial was clumsily taken down by a Stoke defender, but play was waved on.
The home side then took advantage of their fast start, grabbing the opening goal within the opening 10 minutes. Pogba picked out Valencia out wide, who found himself in acres of space. The right back cut inside, and ripped a shot with his weaker foot past Butland to make it 1-0.
Stoke started to get into the game, and almost found a spectacular equaliser when Shaqiri went for a bicycle kick, but his effort was hit right at De Gea.
United begun to fall asleep at the back, and should’ve been punished. Stoke midfielder Ireland strolled into the United penalty area unmarked and was picked out with a decent pass. Ireland bottled the chance, as a poor first touch lead to his volley going well wide of the target.
United had a chance when Lingard won a free kick in a dangerous area, but Mata hit his shot straight into the wall.
It was deja vu for United, as Ireland was left unmarked again in the penalty area. Shaqiri cut inside and laid a pass off to Ireland, but his shot rolled just wide of the target.
Stoke were meant to rue their missed chances as United doubled the lead before halftime. It was lovely play from the Red Devils, as Valencia played Lukaku in out wide, and the Belgian cut inside before passing it off to Pogba. The Frenchman settled the ball, and laid off a pass to the top of the box to his compatriot Martial, who made no mistake with the finish, opening up his hips and curling a shot into the upper corner. It was beautiful buildup capped off with an even better finish.
David De Gea then reminded everyone watching that he is the best goalkeeper on the planet. Stoke created one final chance before halftime, as Shaqiri did well to dribble by a couple of United defenders. He hit a low shot towards the corner, but his effort was saved by De Gea, who kept his clean sheet intact.
United started the second half on the front foot, and almost made it 3-0. Pogba played a through ball to Martial who tried to toe poke it past Butland, but the young English keeper was able to make the save to keep his side in the match.
It should’ve been 3 for United at the hour mark. The ball bounced around the Stoke penalty area before falling to the feet of Martial, who tried to dribble through a crowded area. He was able to settle the ball and get a quick shot off, but Butland was able to make the save.
Stoke threw men forward in attempt to salvage anything from the match, which opened up opportunities on the counter for United. Lukaku lead the charge, carrying the ball up the field before finding Lingard, who laid it off to Mata on the right side. The diminutive Spaniard cut inside, but put his curling effort just wide of the far post.
United created yet another chance, but were still not able to increase their advantage. Shaw whipped in a quality cross to Lingard, who held the ball up well before laying it off to Mata at the top of the box. Mata ran onto the ball, but smashed his shot well over
United thought they had finally scored the third, but it was correctly called back for offside. A cross was headed away by Stoke, but the clearance fell to Lingard at the top of the box. His volley was on flicked on by Mata, past Butland, but Mata was well offside.
Stoke would crack under the continued pressure as Lukaku made it 3 for United. Martial hit a pass to the Belgian, who did well to settle the ball in the area. Lukaku was able to hold off the Stoke defenders as he got the ball to his left foot, before smashing a shot at the near post past Butland.
United made a double substitution after the goal, as Rashford and Fellaini came on for Lingard and Martial.
Mourinho made his third and final change soon after, as McTominay came on for Mata.
Rashford came close to getting his name on the scoresheet. Valencia flew down the wing before hitting a low cross into the area. The ball found Rashford, who tried to flick a shot to the back post, but his attempt was saved well by Butland.
Stoke could’ve grabbed a late consolation goal when Smalling wasn’t able to deal with a long ball. Diouf found himself 1 on 1 with De Gea, but he couldn’t put his shot past the Spanish goalkeeper.
That proved to be the final chance of the game, as United were able to maintain the three goal lead and keep a clean sheet.
United’s next game is on Saturday as the Red Devils travel to Turf Moor to face Burnley.