Former Manchester United star Dimitar Berbatov urged supporters to go easy on the Romelu Lukaku criticism following a difficult run, adamant he offers more than just goals.

Jose Mourinho told Paul Pobga he must match the mentality of his Manchester United team-mates after he watched the 4-1 Premier League win over Fulham from the bench.

First half goals from Ashley Young, Juan Mata and Romelu Lukaku put United on the way to their first victory in five top-flight matches.

Substitute Aboubakar Kamara converted a 67th-minute penalty to give Fulham faint hope that was almost instantly snuffed out as Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa collected a second yellow card for a foul on Marcus Rashford, who completed the scoring.

Fred, the sparingly used £52million recruit was on in midfield ahead of Pobga by that stage, but Mourinho told a post-match news conference the French World Cup winner will have his chance to impress in the midweek Champions League trip to Valencia.

"He has to play with the same mentality as the team is playing," the United boss said.

"Paul can be a fantastic player, he has the potential to be a fantastic player.

"Against Valencia he is going to start and have a fantastic football game to play and to show everybody how good he is."

United midfielders Nemanja Matic and Ander Herrera were praised by Mourinho for their pressing against Claudio Ranieri's struggling side – areas of the game generally not counted among Pogba's strengths.

Lukaku similarly found himself on the bench for the midweek draw against Arsenal but ended a run of 997 minutes without a goal at Old Trafford.

"Romelu's performance improved a lot in relation to previous matches, the way he was pressing, fighting for the team," Mourinho added.

"The team was good, not so much in the second half but in the first half [Phil] Jones and [Chris] Smalling brought the team up, we were a compact unit that gave no chance to Fulham in the first half."

Claudio Ranieri said his Fulham side were "lambs" gobbled up by the "wolves" of Manchester United in his side's 4-1 Premier League thrashing at Old Trafford.

Marcus Rashford scored and provided two assists as United ran riot against the league's bottom side, although Aboubakar Kamara replied from the penalty spot.

United were 3-0 up before the break and Ranieri, whose side have one point from three games after beating Southampton in his first game in charge, accepted Fulham were completely outclassed.

"In the first half it was 11 lambs against 11 wolves. The wolves ate the lambs," Ranieri said to BBC Sport. 

"The second half was much better but I have to consider if that was because they were winning 3-0 or we made a good performance.

"We have to be stronger, more confident in our qualities. Without the strength, the power, it is difficult. Manchester United have everything – qualities, power.

"In the first half we were shy, we were waiting. Why? Why were we waiting? Go, play football. Then, if they score, it is normal. I want my team to play and fight for every single ball. In the second half, we did. Why we didn't in the first half, I need to speak with my players.

"The response in the second half was positive. We played with more intensity, we were hungry, everything better than the first half. The first half was a warm-up."

Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa's red card less than a minute after Kamara's penalty made it 3-1 extinguished any faint hopes of a Fulham fightback.

And Ranieri felt the dismissal, Anguissa shown a second booking for a foul on the impressive Rashford, was the wrong call by referee Lee Probert.

"I want to speak about all the game, not just about the decision of the referee. Referees can mistakes, managers can mistakes and players can make mistakes. That's football," he said at a post-match news conference.

"We scored a goal and that moment there was a fall, but I didn't see it on the pitch. I watched after on video. My player touched the ball only and the referee gave the second yellow card. At that time it changed the match because the first minute of the second half was much better for us.

"We showed what we need to do if we want to stay in the Premier League. I told my players the first half is to be relegated, the second half we can survive. It's very clear, our match today. We have to react, think about it and we have to have desire to be in the Premier League next season, as nobody gives a gift."

Jose Mourinho highlighted Manchester United's improved intensity in and out of possession after they put Fulham to the sword 4-1 at Old Trafford.

Ashley Young opened the scoring in the 13th minute and Juan Mata's 50th Premier League goal before the half hour left the division's bottom club with a mountain to climb.

Recalled striker Romelu Lukaku ended a near 1,000-minute drought in front of goal at Old Trafford and, after substitute Aboubakar Kamara reduced the arrears from the penalty spot, Marcus Rashford completed the scoring.

"I think we were intense, without the ball and with the ball," Mourinho said.

"Without the ball pressing, bringing the lines up and not giving them chance to play the football they like to play.

"Then with the ball, one touch, two touches. I think we were really good.

"Of course, we needed it. The last three matches in the Premier League we didn't lose but we didn't win."

United's first win in England's top flight since November 3 came with Paul Pogba looking on as an unused substitute and Mourinho's comments over his player's unity and work rate felt somewhat pointed in the France star's absence.

"I think the players showed that they can be a better team than they are [at the moment]," he said.

"When there is solidarity and empathy in the team – the players sticking together and everybody giving their maximum, it attracts more positive things.

"When you have people who run and press and then, with the ball, want to play simple and positive football it attracts more positive things."

A highlight of United's display was an enterprising performance throughout from teenage right-back Diogo Dalot.

"I think he is fantastic," Mourinho added. "For a 19-year-old boy, physically he is very strong and technically he is very good.

"Attacking, with his crosses, if you touch the ball then you score. Defensively, he has things to learn but he is a 19-year-old boy."

Romelu Lukaku celebrated his return to the Manchester United starting line-up with a goal as Jose Mourinho's under-fire side breezed to a 4-1 win over an abject Fulham.

Lukaku's close-range finish was his first at Old Trafford for 997 competitive minutes and followed efforts from Ashley Young and Juan Mata inside the opening half hour.

Claudio Ranieri's team lived down to the reputation of the Premier League's bottom club and any encouragement from Aboubakar Kamara's 67th-minute penalty was extinguished by Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa's red card 47 seconds later.

Marcus Rashford completed United's first win in five league games, achieved with Paul Pogba as an unused substitute, which lifts them up to sixth.

Young did a fine job of lifting the prevailing mood at Old Trafford by nutmegging Denis Odoi on the left in the 13th minute and arrowing a superb strike into the top-right corner.

Lukaku's pass cut Fulham apart down the same flank and Mata's finish through the legs of Tim Ream matched the precision of Rashford's cutback – the England forward whose venomous free-kick was well saved by Sergio Rico in the 38th minute.

Unfortunately for the Fulham goalkeeper, the defensive efforts in front of him remained woefully tepid and Lingard released Mata to give Lukaku a simple finish before half-time.

Rico bravely threw himself at Lukaku's feet to save following a teasing cross from Diogo Dalot early in the second half.

Chris Smalling departed through injury, doing little to knock United out of their stride as Ander Herrera side-footed narrowly wide.

The Spanish midfielder was then harshly adjudged to have fouled Kamara, who converted from the spot.

Hopes of a Fulham revival were short-lived as Anguissa challenged Rashford untidily and was shown a second yellow card.

The overworked Rico saved well from Rashford and Lukaku following the introduction of Fred as a substitute. Given those stops, it was somewhat galling when Rico patted Rashford's speculative 83rd-minute effort into the net.

What does it mean: Mourinho ends gloomy run

The unusual spectacle of Mourinho's agent Jorge Mendes effectively offering his client a vote of confidence on Friday stood as the latest indication that all is not well at Old Trafford. At the very least, this authoritative win acts as a moment of respite for their beleaguered boss, who tastes victory in the Premier League for the first time since November 3. If Fulham's return of four points from Ranieri's first three games at the helm was cause for encouragement, such a meek surrender perhaps indicates the true magnitude of his task with the Premier League's bottom club.

United's flying start inspired by flying full-backs

Young's goal was his first in 39 games across all competitions for United since a brace against former club Watford last November and he looked to repeat the trick shortly afterwards. On the other wing, Dalot had already driven forward from deep to send a pair of testing deliveries into the box. The veteran and the youngster gave United's performance a dynamism that has been sorely lacking over recent weeks and the rewards followed.

Odoi horror show emblematic of Fulham's problems

For United's opener, Young was kindly presented with the chance to relive his years as a flying winger. Odoi was obligingly nutmegged, taken out of the game too easily. His attempts to stop United's subsequent goals down his side were notable by their absence. It raised the wider question of why, as Fulham spent in excess of £100million in the past transfer window, did they leave themselves needing to rely on a player appearing so out of his depth at Premier League level.

What's next?

United travel to Valencia with top spot in their Champions League group still up for grabs before a mouth-watering showdown against bitter rivals Liverpool at Anfield next weekend.  Fulham have a week to regroup before a London derby versus West Ham.

Romelu Lukaku ended a run of almost 1,000 minutes without a competitive goal at Old Trafford by netting Manchester United's third against Fulham on Saturday.

Jose Mourinho's men had already eased into a comfortable lead through goals from Ashley Young and Juan Mata before Lukaku sent them in at half-time 3-0 to the good.

The Belgium international was dropped for the 2-2 midweek draw against Arsenal despite scoring when the Red Devils were held by the same scoreline at Southampton last weekend.

That game was at St Mary's, however, meaning his finish from Mata's cross to further punish Premier League strugglers Fulham ended a drought of 997 minutes on home turf – dating back to March's 2-0 win over Swansea City.

Mata's assist was his 50th in the Premier League, hot on the heels of his 50th goal in England's top flight when he stylishly converted Marcus Rashford's cutback in the 28th minute.

The former Chelsea man is the third Spanish player to complete the feat, following Manchester City playmaker David Silva and Cesc Fabregas.

Romelu Lukaku is back in Manchester United's starting line-up for the Premier League game against Fulham at Old Trafford, but Paul Pogba starts among the substitutes once more.

Jose Mourinho dropped both players to the bench for the 2-2 midweek draw against Arsenal, even though Lukaku scored when United shared the same scoreline at Southampton last weekend.

Anthony Martial, who netted the Red Devils' first equaliser versus the Gunners, misses out after taking a knock in a challenge with Sead Kolasinac – opening the door for Lukaku's return.

Mourinho has reverted to a back four, with Juan Mata returning alongside Ander Herrera and Nemanja Matic in a midfield three where there is no room for Pogba.

There are plenty of midfield options on the bench for the under-pressure United manager, including Fred – the £52million close-season signing from Shakhtar Donetsk who has not featured in the Premier League since the 2-1 win at Bournemouth at the start of last month and missed out on a place in the matchday squad against Arsenal.

 

Manchester United need to quickly start turning draws into victories if they are to get themselves back into top-four contention in the Premier League, says Jose Mourinho.

United have failed to win any of their last four league encounters, drawing three, to slip 18 points off leaders Manchester City after 15 games.

Two of those draws came against strugglers Crystal Palace and Southampton, while they had to twice come from behind to earn a point against Arsenal on Wednesday.

That 2-2 draw left Mourinho's men a lowly eighth in the table heading into Saturday's clash with bottom-club Fulham at Old Trafford, and the United boss knows things need to change.

"I sat here a few weeks ago speaking about December and [having] no defeats – that's a reality," he told a media conference.

"[We have had] good fights, good spirit but just one victory against Young Boys [in the Champions League], and three draws, [but] we need points, Fulham are the same.

"I want to be positive and think we are going to win, but if we don’t [win], give credit to people who deserve credit.

"The game is not 11 v 0, it's going to be 11 v 11, with good players on the other side, the position and points [total] don't say much about [the] potential of the team.

"They have one of the two most important managers in Premier League history, they have the potential to come here and give us a difficult match."

United go into Saturday's home fixture with injury concerns – particularly at the back – and Mourinho hopes to get good news after Friday's training session.

"I don't know," he said when asked for an update on his walking wounded. "The training session at 11 o'clock will give us some answers.

"[Chris] Smalling, [Phil] Jones, [Anthony] Martial, [Eric] Bailly, of course [Victor] Lindelof and Alexis [Sanchez] we don't even speak about.

"But we need answers, and for sure we're going to play with players not in the maximum of their potential, but players who will put themselves available for the team like Smalling did in the last match, like Jones did against Southampton, players in difficulty who go one step forward to try and help the team."

Claudio Ranieri acknowledged Fulham's fixture against his former club Leicester City was an emotional occasion.

It was a great couple of days for goalscorers in the Premier League, as matchday 15 saw its 20 teams record a feat that had not been achieved for eight years.

James Maddison denied Claudio Ranieri a victorious reunion with Leicester City as his second-half equaliser forced Fulham to settle for a 1-1 home draw on Wednesday.

Holders Chelsea will begin their FA Cup defence with a home tie against Nottingham Forest, while Arsenal could face non-league opposition in the third round.

The Blues beat Manchester United 1-0 at Wembley in May thanks to an Eden Hazard penalty, in what proved to be Antonio Conte's last game as head coach.

Championship Forest were 4-2 winners over Arsenal in the third round last season and Unai Emery's men could have a venture into the unknown if Solihull Moors of the National League can overcome League One Blackpool in a second-round replay.

Premier League leaders Manchester City, who were knocked out by Wigan Athletic in the fifth round last season, entertain Rotherham United.

City's neighbours United are also at home to Championship strugglers in the form of Reading.

Liverpool will travel to Wolves in one of only two all-Premier League ties, with Bournemouth hosting Brighton and Hove Albion.

Tottenham, still seeking their first trophy under Mauricio Pochettino, face a trip to Merseyside against either Southport of the National League North or League Two Tranmere Rovers.

Ties will take place between January 4-7.

FA Cup third round – draw in full

Bolton Wanderers v Walsall or Sunderland
Millwall v Hull City
Gillingham v Cardiff City
Brentford v Oxford United
Sheffield Wednesday v Luton Town
Manchester United v Reading
Everton v Lincoln City
Tranmere Rovers or Southport v Tottenham
Preston North End v Doncaster Rovers
Newcastle United v Blackburn Rovers
Chelsea v Nottingham Forest
Crystal Palace v Grimsby Town
Derby County v Southampton
Accrington Stanley v Ipswich Town
Bristol City v Huddersfield Town
Wrexham or Newport County v Leicester City
Fulham v Oldham Athletic
Shrewsbury Town v Stoke City
Solihull Moors or Blackpool v Arsenal
Manchester City v Rotherham United
Bournemouth v Brighton and Hove Albion
West Ham v Birmingham City
Woking v Watford
Burnley v Barnsley
QPR v Leeds United
Sheffield United v Barnet
Norwich City v Portsmouth
Guiseley or Fleetwood v AFC Wimbledon
West Brom v Wigan Athletic
Middlesbrough v Peterborough United or Bradford City
Wolves v Liverpool
Aston Villa v Swansea City
 

Maurizio Sarri praised an improved performance from N'Golo Kante as Chelsea returned to winning ways in the Premier League with a 2-0 victory over west London rivals Fulham.

Sarri recently offered a startling criticism of the France midfielder, a title-winner with the Blues under Antonio Conte and with Leciester City under Claudio Ranieri, who was in the opposing dugout at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.

The former Napoli boss claimed Kante is not technically good enough to operate as a central midfielder in his system but, playing alongside Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic in the Chelsea engine room, he played a key role in condemning Ranieri's side to defeat and helping the Blues respond to last week's 3-1 loss to Tottenham.

Kante dispossessed Jean-Michael Seri and played in Pedro down the right side of the box, the Spaniard cleverly evading Alfie Mawson and slotting into the bottom-left corner to open the scoring.

Asked about Kante's performance in his post-match media conference, Sarri replied: "I think he played very well. He defended very well. He needs, I think, to improve a little more from the tactical point of view, but it's natural.

"In the national team he usually plays with the two midfielders. Last season, sometimes with two midfielders and sometimes with three but in the same position. So I think it's normal he needs to improve."

On Kante's positioning, he added: "Today, better, I think. When the ball was on the other side of the pitch, better. I remember only one mistake in the first half.

"With the ball on the other side, he has to stay very close to Jorginho. Otherwise it's a big problem for us. Jorginho can cut out passes from the opposition, but he's not very strong at closing the open spaces."

Ruben Loftus-Cheek made the points safe for a below-par Chelsea as he played a part in and emphatically finished off a fantastic move involving Pedro and Eden Hazard.

The England midfielder has now scored five goals in his last six games in all competitions and Sarri said of his form: "In the last three weeks he has solved me problems.

"In the Europa League it was the best performance from the tactical point of view. I put him on the pitch without problems and was sure about his performance."

Ranieri suffered his first defeat since replacing Slavisa Jokanovic, having overseen a 3-2 win over Southampton in his opening game in charge.

However, Ranieri was encouraged by his side's showing, and also backed his compatriot's decision to criticise Kante.

"I think we played much better today than in the Southampton match. We have to continue in this way," Ranieri said. "My players must understand better my philosophy. I play very, very fast.

"We made good decisions in a very short time. Under pressure from Chelsea, it was difficult to play. We were prepared, but now we think about the next match.

"N'Golo is a fantastic player. Maurizio is right to pick on him sometimes. Not on only him but all the players, to improve. N'Golo played a very good match today."

Chelsea responded to their first Premier League defeat of the season by putting west London rivals Fulham to the sword in a routine 2-0 win.

Maurizio Sarri's men were beaten 3-1 by Tottenham last time out in the league but, after easing to a 4-0 win over PAOK in the Europa League, did not to produce their best to resume normal service.

Pedro pounced on a poor passage of play from the visitors to open the scoring after just four minutes, and an excellent team goal finished off by Ruben Loftus-Cheek made the points safe late on.

Fulham had briefly threatened a leveller before that decisive blow, making it an unhappy return to Stamford Bridge for Claudio Ranieri, whose side remain bottom, while Chelsea at least momentarily move up to third.

It took a mere 220 seconds for Fulham's defensive woes to continue as sloppy play in midfield led to Chelsea's opener, their 1000th home goal in the Premier League.

Cyrus Christie's poor pass put Jean Michael Seri in trouble and he was dispossessed by N'Golo Kante.

The France midfielder played in Pedro down the right and the former Barcelona winger finished in style, cleverly evading Alfie Mawson before slotting into the bottom-left corner.

Sergio Rico was left relatively helpless but the Fulham goalkeeper was required to prevent Olivier Giroud from doubling Chelsea's lead, producing a fine stop to keep out his close-range effort after the ex-Arsenal striker latched on to Cesar Azpilicueta's right-wing cross.

Fulham started the second half in much more promising fashion and Seri almost atoned for his earlier error, delivering a fine corner from which Calum Chambers saw his near-post header brilliantly kept out by Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Chambers forced Kepa into a diving save as Fulham threatened what had previously looked an extremely unlikely equaliser.

A glorious chance to end any Fulham hope went begging as substitute Alvaro Morata lashed over from point-blank range after Rico turned Eden Hazard's deflected effort into his path.

However, Rico was helpless as Loftus-Cheek finally put the game to bed, playing a part in and emphatically finishing off a wonderful move involving Pedro and Hazard.

Antonio Rudiger wants Chelsea to use the pain of last weekend's dismal 3-1 defeat at Tottenham as a source of fuel for Sunday's visit of Fulham.

Maurizio Sarri's side were uncharacteristically lacklustre at Wembley, where the Blues suffered a first loss of the Premier League season.

Rudiger – who played no part in Thursday's 4-0 Europa League win over PAOK – was at a loss to explain the nature of the performance against Spurs, but insisted no major changes were needed.

"It's difficult to tell [what went wrong] because sometimes you have one or two players that are not in good shape but it was the whole team," the Germany international told Sky Sports.

"It was a bit weird. It's hard to explain but, if you play like this, you deserve to lose.

"I can tell you so many things but it's just excuses at the end of the day. The only thing I can say is that we have to see this as a very big and hard lesson and move on.

"We have to bounce back. It's clear. We have to show a reaction.

"We lost this game but do we need to question everything? I don't think so.

"After defeat you always have to step up. It's not the end of the world. We are now going into the end of November, December – who thought we would be unbeaten?

"Of course how we lost is very, very bad but at the end of the day it's not the end of the world. We have to look forward and keep doing what we can do best.

"Fulham is a local derby and it's very important for the fans and me. It's my first experience. I take every game seriously and try to win, especially a game like that."

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