Manchester United run riot without Wayne Rooney against Leicester City
Premier League, Old Trafford - Manchester United 4 (Smalling 22, Mata 37, Rashford 40, Pogba 42) Leicester City 1 (Gray 59)
Manchester United looked a team revived with Wayne Rooney dropped for a 4-1 destruction of Leicester City in the Premier League.
The big news ahead of kick-off was Jose Mourinho’s decision to leave Rooney on the bench, with Marcus Rashford, Ander Herrera and Juan Mata all starting in a vibrant-looking line-up. And the decision was vindicated by a sensational first-half performance that saw United put the visiting Premier League champions to the sword.
Three times United scored from corners before the break, with Chris Smalling, Rashford and the superb Paul Pogba all punishing Leicester from set-pieces, but it was Mata’s goal – United’s second – that was the pick of the bunch.
Wayne Rooney sits on the benchReuters
The Spaniard started off the move, before silky touches from Jesse Lingard and Pogba teed him to lash in a shot from the edge of the box. It was a move that summed up United’s first-half showing: pacey, precise and oozing quality, and there was little surprise when the hosts went off to a standing ovation at the interval.
Leicester removed both Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez at the break and were much improved, with substitute Demarai Gray pulling a goal back with wonderful shot from range. But the game was over as a contest long before the final whistle.
United in ‘better without Rooney’ shocker - The demise of Wayne Rooney has been tough to watch, but even the England and United captain must have realised that his days as a guaranteed started were numbered when watching that first-half showing. Without Rooney slowing things down in central areas the hosts were able to zip the ball around at pace and expose Leicester’s lack of athleticism in defence, while also getting support up to Ibrahimovic and playing at a tempo that few teams would have been able to live with.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Paul Pogba (Manchester United) – This was comfortably Pogba’s best performance since his summer move. He dominated midfield, took his goal well and made some exquisite contributions.
Manchester United's Spanish midfielder Ander Herrera (L), Manchester United's French midfielder Paul PogbaAFP
22’ – GOAL! MANCHESTER UNITED 1-0 LEICESTER Chris Smalling slams home a header from a corner to open the scoring for Manchester United. Huth was supposed to be marking Smalling, but lost his man and left way too much space for United's captain.
27’ – STUNNING MOVE – The hosts are bossing it since the opening goal and almost add an unbelievable second when Pogba dinks a delightful pass over the top to find the run of Zlatan, who controls on his chest on the turn and volleys just over the bar.
36’ – GOAL! MANCHESTER UNITED 2-0 LEICESTER Juan Mata makes it 2-0 after silky interplay between the Spaniard, Pogba and Lingard. It's a quality goal and United are in complete control of this game.
41’ – GOAL! MANCHESTER UNITED 3-0 LEICESTER It's 3-0 and it's Marcus Rashford! Leicester completely switched off from a corner and a flick on picked out Rashford in acres of space to tuck home.
Manchester United's English defender Chris Smalling (C) celebrates with Manchester United's English striker MarcusAFP
42’ – GOAL! MANCHESTER UNITED 4-0 LEICESTER It's another! This is unbelievable. It's Paul Pogba from a corner and it's 4-0 before half-time! Pogba gets the run on his marker from a corner and glances an excellent header across the helpless Zieler and into the corner of the net. It's his first goal for his club!
59’ – GOAL! MANCHESTER UNITED 4-1 LEICESTER Gray pulls one back for Leicester and it's an absolute peach!
66’ – SAVE – Zieler denies Ibrahimovic with a finger-tip save to push the striker's shot around the post.
68’ – CHANCE – King is picked out in acres of space inside the area, but he doesn't put his laces through it and De Gea makes a comfortable save. The Wales international grimaces - he knows he should have scored there.
77’ – SAVE – Gray's goal was pretty special, but he almost trumps it with a spectacular, looping effort that appeared destined for the top corner until De Gea stretched out a hand to make a fine save.
- Leicester City have now lost 3 games this season, the same number as the whole of the 2015/16 Premier League campaign.
- Marcus Rashford has scored in three consecutive games for the first time in his Man Utd career.
- The last time that United led at half-time by a four goal margin in the Premier League was in Feb 2001 against Arsenal.
- United scored four goals before half-time in a Premier League game for the first time since December 2012 against Reading.
- Six of Chris Smalling's seven Premier League goals for United have been headers.