Manchester United moved into the top four as Mason Greenwood struck a brilliant brace in a 5-2 victory over relegation-threatened Bournemouth.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side went above Chelsea ahead of the Blues' game against Watford with a win that extended their unbeaten run to 16 games in all competitions.

They fell behind to Junior Stanislas' opener, but led at the break through first-half efforts from Greenwood, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial.

Joshua King's penalty reduced the deficit, yet Greenwood's second stunning strike was added to by Bruno Fernandes' free-kick as United marched on.

The Cherries took a shock 16th-minute lead when Stanislas followed up his initial blocked effort and nutmegged Harry Maguire on the byline before beating David de Gea at his near post.

It was the first time United had conceded in 500 minutes in all competitions, but they soon roared back when Greenwood blasted in a venomous left-footed drive having been found by Fernandes.

And six minutes later, United were ahead. Adam Smith needlessly handled the ball following Martial's downward header and Rashford stuck the resulting penalty into the bottom-right corner of the net.

That put Rashford ahead of Martial in their personal goals duel, though the Frenchman also moved onto 20 for the campaign in emphatic fashion, cutting in off the left flank and rifling into the top corner with a brilliant right-footed strike.

Bournemouth were handed a route back into the match when United made a sloppy start to the second half.

De Gea had already saved from Lewis Cook and Arnaut Danjuma hit the post after Maguire gave the ball away before Eric Bailly handled trying to control Nemanja Matic's pass.

King converted the penalty against his old club, only for Greenwood to again deliver an emphatic response six minutes later, this time with his right foot.

Fernandes, with two assists to his name already, then got in on the act as United scored five at Old Trafford in a Premier League game for the first time since 2011.

 

What does it mean? Five-star United show resilience

This was not a vintage United display – certainly at the back – but they responded brilliantly on the two occasions Bournemouth scored when in the past they may have crumbled after conceding.

The Cherries, who sit 19th, climbed three places above United when they won the reverse fixture back in November, and the two teams have certainly been on opposite trajectories since.

Greenwood's golden finishing

Solskjaer says he wants another striker, but he will struggle to find one that can finish like 18-year-old Greenwood.

He was clinical with his left foot, then his right, and has already moved onto eight Premier League goals this term.

Dave doesn't save... again

Roy Keane's scathing criticism of United's number one last month was probably still ringing in De Gea's ears when he let Stanislas' effort beat him at his near post.

It did not cost United on the day, but the Spaniard's growing collection of mistakes must be factors when the club decide what to do with Sheffield United loanee Dean Henderson next season.

What's next?

United visit another side fighting to stay in the division when they travel to Aston Villa on Thursday, while Bournemouth host Tottenham on the same day.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admits Mason Greenwood has more talent as a teenager than the Manchester United manager possessed as he lauded the 13-goal forward.

Greenwood has enjoyed a breakout season at Old Trafford and provided both a goal and an assist in the midweek win at Brighton and Hove Albion.

The England youth international has often played out wide, but Solskjaer on Friday discussed the possibility of the 18-year-old soon moving into a central striking role he occupied in the academy.

Speaking ahead of Saturday's Premier League meeting with Bournemouth, the manager says Greenwood has made much more progress than he had the same stage of his career.

"We have done well over the course of the season, giving him more and more exposure, more and more game time," Solskjaer said of Greenwood.

"It's not easy being a young boy. He could still play in this season's FA Youth Cup team, so he's a young boy we have to look after.

"But he's performing off the bench or when he starts and he's developed fantastically this season. The sky's the limit - it's up to him.

"He knows what he should do, can do and must do to continue playing, but that's between us.

"He's a centre-forward by trade, but he likes to drift wide, he likes to face forwards, and that's a different role from being the forward up through the middle.

"You see some centre-forwards who have their back to goal, get hold of the ball, link it, which Mason is improving on. His body is filling out and he can play that position.

"I think we can see maybe like we have done with Marcus [Rashford] and Anthony [Martial] as well: they are good centre-forwards, very good footballers, good goalscorers and with good movement. They're not stuck between the posts.

"Mason's way ahead of where I was when I was 18 or 19, that's for sure. He's got a knack of scoring goals - it's difficult to say anything different because it's natural for him. It was what I felt I could do as well.

"He's a brilliant boy to work with. If he keeps on learning, keeps on making better and better decisions, he'll be good."

There had been reports United were looking to boost their squad with another teenager, Birmingham City's 17-year-old Jude Bellingham.

But the midfielder now appears set instead for Borussia Dortmund, although Solskjaer brushed off a question on the youngster.

"I think there's been loads of speculation linking us to every single talented player from the age of 15 to 25 really, so I can't comment on every single player that's been linked with us," he said. "So, no, I can't really comment."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has described Mason Greenwood as a "special kid" following his superb display in Manchester United's 3-0 Premier League win over Brighton and Hove Albion on Tuesday.

United cranked up the pressure on fourth-place Chelsea with an effortless win at the Amex Stadium, with Greenwood getting them on their way early on.

That was followed by two Bruno Fernandes strikes – the second of which was superbly set up by Greenwood after a flowing counter attack.

Solskjaer was full of praise for the 18-year-old and says he is destined for a bright future.

"Mason's first goal was brilliant and he played fantastically," he told Sky Sports. "He's a special kid, we know when he gets faced up he looks dangerous. His link up play was great today.

"He's got a knack of that. He can go inside or outside and he is developing into a fine player."

Solskjaer was also fulsome in his praise of Fernandes, who took his tally to five goals in eight Premier League games following his January move from Sporting CP.

The 25-year-old has quickly become an instrumental figure for the Red Devils and his boss is delighted with his "winning mentality".

"We have some top players and Bruno has come and been fantastic," he told BBC Sport. "He has brought that winning mentality with him; that 99 per cent is not good enough – it has to be 100 per cent."

Manchester United's push for a top-four spot continued on Tuesday as they cruised to a 3-0 win over Brighton and Hove Albion at the Amex Stadium.

United wasted little time stamping their authority on the game as strikes from Mason Greenwood and Bruno Fernandes put them two up before the half-hour mark.

Greenwood was the provider for Fernandes' second after 50 minutes as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side made it eight games unbeaten in the Premier League.

The result moved United up to fifth, two points behind Chelsea, although they have played a game more. Brighton, meanwhile, remained in 15th, six points above the relegation zone.

United started on the front foot, with Fernandes crashing a long-range effort against the post after 12 minutes.

They did not have to wait long to open the scoring, though, Greenwood surging into the penalty area, bamboozling Lewis Dunk with a series of stepovers and clipping a smart finish past Mat Ryan at his near post in the 16th minute. 

That advantage was doubled in the 29th minute when Fernandes' strike from 20 yards took a wicked deflection off Alexis Mac Allister to wrongfoot Ryan.

A devastating counter attack led to United's third five minutes after the restart, Greenwood picking out Fernandes at the back post with a sumptuous cross, with the Portuguese volleying past a helpless Ryan from eight yards.

Substitute Leandro Trossard twice flashed efforts wide after the hour mark, while David de Gea tipped over Aaron Connolly's strike as Brighton belatedly woke from their slumber.

Graham Potter's men failed to score a consolation, though, as United strolled to the most comfortable of away wins. 

 

What does it mean? New-look United taking shape

Big things were expected from Fernandes when he joined from Sporting CP in January and he has not disappointed. Not only has he proven to be a potent goal threat – his brace took his tally to five goals in eight Premier League games – but he has elevated those around him.

United have been insipid in attack for so long but with Fernandes conducting an exciting forward line, fans might dare to dream of a title push in the coming seasons.  

Greenwood continues to sparkle

The 18-year-old has enjoyed a superb breakout season for United and once again showed why he is such an exciting talent. It is testament to his prodigious ability that he slots in so seamlessly alongside seasoned internationals like Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford and Fernandes.

Lewis slam Dunk-ed by Reds

The Seagulls captain endured a game to forget. He offered little resistance to Greenwood for United's first and failed to effectively marshal his defence throughout.

What's next?

United will be confident of securing a third consecutive Premier League win when a struggling Bournemouth visit Old Trafford on Saturday, while Brighton travel to Norwich City on the same day.

Paul Pogba is to make his first Premier League start since September for Manchester United, lining up alongside Bruno Fernandes in the team to take on Sheffield United.

Fit again following a foot injury, Pogba made an impact off the bench in Friday's 1-1 draw with Tottenham.

The France international won the penalty that Fernandes converted to secure a point in the Red Devils' first outing since the coronavirus-enforced break to the top-flight season.

Now the pair are picked to play together from the start for the first time by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who also selects Mason Greenwood in an attacking XI for the game at Old Trafford.

Pogba's previous league start was in a 1-1 draw against Arsenal on September 30.

"It was always our plan to get Paul to play more and more. To give him more than 45 minutes, you've got to start him," Solskjaer – who also opted for Nemanja Matic in midfield – told Sky Sports. "Let’s see how long he [Pogba] lasts today.

On the Pogba-Fernandes combination, he added: "It's good players playing together, so it's always nice to see them. I know we're going to play against a very tough opponent that is going to make it difficult for them – and that's going to make Paul and Bruno run the other way [in defence] as well."

As for the visitors, Dean Henderson is unable to play against his parent club. Simon Moore starts instead in goal for the Blades, while centre-back Phil Jagielka replaces the suspended John Egan.

Mason Greenwood is a "ridiculous" talent who could become a special player for Manchester United, Quinton Fortune says.

The 18-year-old has established himself firmly in manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's first-team plans at Old Trafford this season since becoming the youngest player to start a Premier League game for the club - at 17 years and 223 days old - last May.

Greenwood has scored 12 goals in all competitions, mostly as a substitute, and came close to finding a winner in the 1-1 draw with Tottenham last Friday.

Fortune, who is now United's Under-23s assistant and was a former coach of Greenwood, says the forward is "the real deal".

"Mason is fortunate he's got Ole as a manager," Fortune, a Premier League winner with the Red Devils in 2002-03, told the UTD Podcast.

"Obviously, there's all the coaches he's had through his youth-team career but he couldn't ask for a better manager because Ole's done it at the highest level.

"There're not many players in world football that are able to go both ways like Mason does. Equally, left and right foot, he's ridiculous.

"I thought he was left-footed and then he takes penalties with his right! And I've seen him take a free-kick with his right foot, his left foot. I'm like, 'what's wrong with you!? Just pick one! Are you okay?'

"I'm walking through the building at the Aon Training Complex and there's a computer room where the analyst team work.

"Mason was in there, looking at games and how he can do better. He's on it. He's just a natural. He's an unbelievable finisher. He's the real deal.

"I'm waiting for him to have a burst of speed but he's so good around the box. Stepover, boom! He's just created that one little yard for him and boom!

"As a defender, which way do you show Mason? He can go right, he can go left. I don't even know, the guy's got everything."

Mason Greenwood could be Manchester United's next Robin van Persie, according to defender Luke Shaw.

Greenwood has enjoyed an impressive breakout season at Old Trafford, scoring 12 times and laying on four assists despite 20 of his 36 outings coming from the bench.

Writing in his weekly lockdown diary on United's official website, Shaw marvelled at the 18-year-old's potential and sees shades of Van Persie – the Netherlands great whose prolific debut season at Old Trafford in 2012-13 inspired Alex Ferguson's farewell Premier League title triumph.

"He’s had a fantastic first season in the first team. He’s clearly a natural goalscorer," Shaw observed. "This season – even though he doesn’t start all the time – his goals return and his stats are great, and he’s got some assists too. For someone so young, in their first season, he’s done brilliantly.

"He’s still got so much to learn, but if he carries on working hard and pushes himself every day then I don’t see why we can’t see him turn into another Robin van Persie or a player of that style that’ll score lots of goals for us."

Greenwood's most notable trait is his two-footed capabilities and Shaw knows what a considerable challenge this can present for defenders.

"Purely the fact that he’s so two-footed, it’s unbelievable," the England international said.

"When I was younger, when I played youth football, there was a young lad called Lewis Baker who played with Chelsea, he was always both-footed.

"Him and Mason are probably the only two pure two-footed players I’ve seen. When I was at Southampton, Adam Lallana could also use his left and right very well.

"Also Ravel Morrison was very strong on both feet and we’ve seen a lot of people talking about his potential in recent weeks, but I’d say Mason is stronger on that front."

Manchester United look destined for the Europa League quarter-finals after cruising to a resounding 5-0 victory over LASK in the first leg of their last-16 tie in Linz on Thursday.

In a match that was played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus outbreak, Odion Ighalo used his third start for United to take his tally for the club to four with a stunning effort in the 28th minute.

Ighalo then set up James to score his first goal since August, ending a run of 32 games and 2,527 minutes without hitting the back of the net in all competitions, before Juan Mata slid home a lovely pass from Fred.

Substitute duo Mason Greenwood and Andreas Pereira hit the back of the net within the space of 85 seconds in stoppage time to cap an impressive victory for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side, who are now 11 unbeaten in all competitions.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said the arrival of Bruno Fernandes at Manchester United has "given everyone a boost" after the midfielder scored his first goal for the club in a 3-0 victory over Watford at Old Trafford.

Fernandes was outstanding throughout on Sunday as United clinched a second consecutive victory in a run of three unbeaten Premier League matches and moved them up to fifth in the table.

After scoring from the penalty spot to give United the lead, Fernandes created the opening for Anthony Martial to score their second and got the assist that teed up Mason Greenwood for a stunning third.

Solskjaer later paid tribute to the 25-year-old's pace and his uplifting effect on the Red Devils squad after he followed up an impressive outing in Monday's 2-0 win over Chelsea.

"Bruno Fernandes is quicker than he looks," the United manager told BBC Sport.

"[We're] very excited by having him in. He has come in, given everyone a boost and wants to conduct a game."

Solskjaer continued: "[Bruno] loves playing football, he wants the ball, he's got the personality and character to demand it all the time, wanting to take the penalty.

"He takes it the way he does to show he is a Man United character, not just a very, very good footballer."

"[It was] a very good win, two good wins and two clean sheets, some goals to celebrate. Now, we want to kick on," added Solskjaer, whose side entertain Club Brugge in the Europa League on Thursday ahead of their trip to Everton in the Premier League three days later.

"There are big games coming up now."

United defender Luke Shaw said the victory had given his team-mates hope of catching Chelsea and qualifying for next season's Champions League.

Chelsea are fourth in the table, three points clear of United, after following up their loss to the Red Devils with a 2-1 victory over Tottenham.

Shaw told Sky Sports: "We got what we needed and that was three points. Let's keep pushing.

"The most important thing is we closed the gap to Chelsea.

"This club is known for playing in the big competitions. We all miss the Champions League nights so much – that is what we want next season.

"We need to fight and earn it."

Bruno Fernandes is determined to propel Manchester United back into the Champions League after he scored his first goal for the club in an impressive 3-0 victory over Watford at Old Trafford.

The Portugal international was inspirational for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side on Sunday, scoring their first from the penalty spot and then having a hand in goals for Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood as the Red Devils moved up to fifth in the Premier League table.

Fernandes, who sent Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster the wrong way with a skip in his run-up, was delighted to get a first home triumph with his new club – and hopes there are plenty more to come this season.

"This is the day every player wants to have," Fernandes said. "I had the luck to score and win the game. We all gave our best and gave an excellent game, finally my first win at home.

"Everyone knows we want to take a Champions League place. It's not new for anybody. I'm just here to help the team to conquer this place and keep winning games."

On his penalty technique, he added: "It's the way I shoot a penalty. I feel confident shooting this way. I don't shoot just in that way but today I think it was the best way to score, so I just tried and was lucky enough to score."

Fernandes aimed a friendly dig at team-mate Martial, who denied him an assist in the process of scoring United's second.

Martial received the ball from Fernandes and fired a shot that Foster saved, only for the France international to chip the ball beyond the keeper at the second attempt.

Fernandes did set up Greenwood to score with a rocket of a shot, and he pointed out that it could easily have been two assists.

"I hope Anthony scores more goals when I pass the ball to him and not him miss the goal and take the ball again, because if he scores it's two assists," said Fernandes.

"Last week he said he never scores on my assist, but I think it's not my fault!"

He added: "I just need to help the team. This is what I want to do and what I need to do."

Bruno Fernandes scored his first goal for Manchester United and created two more as the Red Devils extended their unbeaten run to six matches in all competitions with a 3-0 Premier League victory over Watford.

The £62million January signing from Sporting CP put in a performance that made his fee look like a bargain, winning and scoring a first-half penalty to break the deadlock against a battling Watford team before creating superbly taken goals from Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood.

United survived some nervous moments and Watford had an equaliser ruled out for handball before Martial doubled their advantage, but the invention and craft of Fernandes has given Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men an edge they lacked for so much of this season.

Defeat leaves Watford in the relegation zone and without a win in six matches in all competitions, but manager Nigel Pearson will take some comfort from a strong attacking performance that might have delivered a different outcome but for some poor finishing.

Troy Deeney might have put Watford ahead after three minutes when Nemanja Matic and Harry Maguire allowed Victor Lindelof's blocked pass to run through to the Hornets captain, but he hesitated, and Luke Shaw dispossessed him just in time.

Abdoulaye Doucoure hit the side-netting from a tight angle as Watford continued to prise open a faltering United defence and, when the hosts countered, Aaron Wan-Bissaka missed from 12 yards after Ben Foster parried Dan James' angled drive.

The pace of the game slowed before exploding into life five minutes before half-time when Fernandes burst into the Watford box where Ben Foster sent him sprawling, and the Portuguese midfielder's hopping run-up and cool low finish put United ahead from the spot.

Watford had the ball in the net five minutes after the restart when Maguire lashed it into the roof of his own net under pressure from Deeney, but Craig Dawson playing the ball with his arm in the build-up meant the goal was ruled out.

Six minutes later, Fernandes turned provider, threading a pass through to Martial whose drag-back fooled Etienne Capoue before his immaculate chip saw him beat Foster at the second attempt.

United's third was the pick of the goals, Greenwood starting a move that ended with Fernandes rolling the ball to him just inside the box and he cracked an unstoppable shot into the top corner of the net off the frame of the goal.

Solskjaer sent on Odion Ighalo for his home United debut against his former club and he hit the post six minutes from time but by then the game was comfortably won as hopes of a possible Champions League return continued to grow around Old Trafford.

 

What does it mean?

One win in three home league matches hardly feels like great form but United are just three points behind fourth-place Chelsea, while Watford, who are 19th, remain one point adrift of safety and still without a league win at Old Trafford in their history.

Fernandes brings out United's best

The arrival of Fernandes has given the likes of James and Greenwood a creative lynchpin and, after showing his finishing prowess, the 25-year-old brought the best out of Martial and Greenwood.

Deeney made to rue early miss

Sluggish and sloppy in the opening 20 minutes, Deeney eventually grew into the game but only after he had missed Watford's best chance of the game.

What's next?

Watford host champions elect Liverpool at Vicarage Road on Saturday before United's trip to Everton on Sunday. The Red Devils are in Europa League action against Club Brugge at Old Trafford three days earlier.

Each close-season transfer window has a defining 'saga' and everything points to the next revolving around Jadon Sancho and Manchester United.

Media reports began to circulate on Wednesday claiming Sancho is set to leave Borussia Dortmund at the end of the season, having emerged as one of world football's next great hopes since joining from Manchester City.

The England international seems likely to return home later this year and United are rumoured to be leading the chase, ready to pay £120million for his signature.

United's issues on the flanks are nothing new. For several years they have seemingly operated with a bizarre square-pegs-round-holes policy, assigning numerous players who clearly aren't wingers to wide roles.

We looked at the data to understand how Sancho stacks up with United's current attacking options.

A PROLIFIC CREATOR

It's difficult to imagine Sancho joining United and not having a swift and decisive impact. The only other genuine winger in their squad is Daniel James, and while the Wales international has enjoyed a solid debut season after a shock move, he has faded recently and clearly lacks a certain presence.

After Andreas Pereira (31), Fred (30) and Marcus Rashford (24), James (23) has created the most Premier League chances for United this term and his haul of six assists isn't matched by any of his team-mates.

By comparison, Sancho has laid on 47 opportunities for team-mates in the Bundesliga this season, the fifth-highest in the division, and his haul of 13 assists is the same amount as James, Anthony Martial and Rashford combined.

SUBTLETY IN THE FINAL THIRD

The United squad isn't exactly blessed with lots of physical attackers renowned for their aerial ability, which suggests hooking hopeful crosses into the box does not represent a fertile route to goal.

For the most part, United forwards aren't desperate to cross, with Pereira (28), Rashford (19) and Martial (7) often looking for alternative ways to penetrate the box, but James (79) is the 11th most-frequent crosser in the league, even if he's some way off Trent Alexander-Arnold (159).

Sancho fits in more with the former group, supplying only 22 crosses this season. Perhaps such a low figure is justified by the fact only five per cent were accurate.

Nevertheless, this does suggest Sancho is more subtle and deliberate with his creativity, and given he has crafted comfortably more chances and goals than the United contingent, it is difficult to argue he should alter his style.

A KEY INFLUENCE

As someone who creates so many opportunities, it wouldn't be unusual to expect Sancho to be somewhat wayward in possession, given the necessity to take risks.

But 80 per cent of his 496 passes into the final third have been accurate. Of the 284 Bundesliga players to play at least 50 passes into that part of the pitch, only 11 have greater accuracy than Sancho, though none of those attempted more than 308.

Martial, Fred, Mason Greenwood, Luke Shaw, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard have all been more accurate in the final third, but Sancho has attempted far more passes, while none of them have got anywhere close to the Dortmund star's chance creation record.

DEADLY WHEN IT MATTERS

Sancho's not just a creator, however.

As well as his 13 assists, Sancho has also chipped in with 12 Bundesliga goals this season, a figure bettered by only Robert Lewandowski (22) and Timo Werner (20).

Those 12 goals came from 37 attempts, meaning he is averaging almost a goal every three shots, comfortably better than Martial (17 per cent of 48 shots) and Rashford (19 per cent of 74 shots).

A complete player in attack, Sancho offers an all-round threat that United simply do not possess.

He also appears to be the ideal player for United stylistically, with his attributes and dynamism similar to the likes of Martial, Rashford and Greenwood, around whom club seem intent on building their future.

Will Sancho be the next to join that trio?

Manchester United must resist the urge to place too much importance on Mason Greenwood so early in his career because to do so could have lasting negative results similar to those suffered by Michael Owen, according to Rio Ferdinand.

Greenwood broke into the United first-team squad last season and made three appearances, including a debut start in the defeat to Cardiff City on the final day.

His role in the squad unsurprisingly increased this term after the departure of Romelu Lukaku, with the 18-year-old making 32 appearances across all competitions.

A recent injury to Marcus Rashford means he could find himself a more regular starter in the final months of the season, but former United captain Ferdinand is concerned over-reliance on Greenwood too early could see him suffering a decline like Owen.

Former Liverpool, Real Madrid and United striker Owen came through the academy at Anfield in the 1990s and became a superstar as a teenager, then winning the Ballon d'Or in 2001, but he was ravaged by injuries and fitness issues later in his career.

Speaking at the launch of BT's 4-3-3 Home Nations campaign, Ferdinand said: "The kid [Greenwood] is a fantastic goal-scorer.

"All through the youth levels as a kid, he's always found it easy scoring goals. He plays off both feet – he's a fantastic talent, but he needs to be nurtured correctly.

"You can't expect him to come in and play every game just because there's an injury to Marcus and then put it all on his shoulders.

"A good yardstick is to look at someone like Michael Owen. He came through as a 'boy wonder', huge expectations [on him] and he played far too many games from a young age.

"I think that was a big factor in him having big injuries later on in his career, slowing him down. That's something to look at, to make sure we don't have the same mistake with Mason - nurture him the right way."

Ferdinand is also concerned about Greenwood potentially being under too much pressure at United, particularly if he does take on a more important role with Rashford injured and Anthony Martial failing to convince in a central role.

"It [coping with the pressure] is difficult if he's got no one around him with the experience to guide him," Ferdinand continued.

"You just hope he's got players or staff in there that can help him and guide him through that period and allow him to understand the pressure isn't [on] him. He's too young.

"There's other players in there that can take on that pressure on their shoulders and are experienced enough to do that. It's up to other people to do that."

 

BT's 4-3-3 Home Nations strategy will use the power of football and technology to release the potential of para and disability, grassroots, and women's football communities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer told Manchester United supporters unhappy with the club's owners that the Red Devils must "stay together" after his players disappointed those hoping for an FA Cup upset by thumping Tranmere Rovers 6-0 to reach round five.

United arrived at Prenton Park having lost back-to-back Premier League games against Liverpool and Burnley and the club's plight prompted some in the away end to reprise the disgruntled atmosphere that filled Old Trafford after defeat to the Clarets four days earlier.

Goals from Harry Maguire, Diogo Dalot, Jesse Lingard, Phil Jones, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood lightened the mood among the United faithful as Solskjaer's men breezed past League One opposition, and the manager praised his side's approach after they avoided a potential banana skin.

"If you go into the trap of playing long balls and making this game a fight, we're not used to that," Solskjaer told BT Sport. "They would have been better suited than us. We just asked our players to play and it went well.

"I think the players played football the way it should be played. It was an exceptional performance at times. It was a very difficult pitch.

"It wasn't just the Tranmere people who wanted an upset, there were a lot of others. We've just got to stay together and keep working.

"Every game you win is a good one for your confidence. Every time you score a goal and perform well, it's good.

"The attitude was spot on. That's all you can ask for. When the attitude is right, you can't fault them."

Maguire, who opened the scoring for United with a powerful 20-yard drive, and then provided the assist for Lingard to score their third in a display full of guile and attacking intent, said his first goal for the club was long overdue.

"It's been a long time coming," said Maguire. "I've had a lot of chances this year without finding the back of the net. It’s nice to help the team get into the next round.

"It was really important to get the win, coming off the back of a bad performance and result against Burnley.

"We set our stall out to put in a positive performance for the fans. We're in the next round, which is what we came to do."

Diogo Dalot scored his first goal for Manchester United and there were rare strikes from Harry Maguire and Jesse Lingard as the Red Devils routed Tranmere Rovers 6-0 to reach the fifth round of the FA Cup.

A goal glut and a morale-boosting victory was just what Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men needed after suffering back-to-back Premier League defeats, and the United boss watched a fluent performance from his charges despite a cut-up pitch at Prenton Park.

Maguire opened the floodgates with a long-range strike into the top corner and goals from Dalot and Lingard soon followed to put the visitors 3-0 up inside 16 minutes.

Phil Jones headed United's fourth and Anthony Martial's deflected shot made it 5-0 before Mason Greenwood scored a penalty in the second half to wrap up a win that affords under-pressure Solskjaer some breathing space.

After 10 cagey opening minutes, United found space to exploit around the Tranmere box and Maguire strolled forward with the ball before cutting onto his right foot and sending a crisp drive into the top right corner from 20 yards, a slight deflection helping it on its way.

Three minutes later Dalot played a one-two with Martial and skilfully cut inside his marker before hammering an angled drive low into the far corner of the net to double his side's advantage.

Maguire continued his attacking forays and created space on the edge of the box for Lingard to curl United's third into the bottom corner with aplomb, and five minutes before half-time Jones met an Andreas Pereira corner with a looping far-post header over goalkeeper Scott Davies.

Martial rendered the second half a formality when he scored from the left corner of the Tranmere box with a shot that took a wicked deflection and curled just inside the right post.

Substitute Tahith Chong was scythed down by Davies early in the second half and Greenwood rolled his penalty into the bottom left corner.

Dalot broke down the right and lashed a shot towards goal that Davies could only parry away at the near post before Morgan Ferrier missed a one-on-one with Romero at the other end.

Lingard might have scored what would have been just his third goal in 42 games when he tried a bending shot from the edge of the box, but it flashed narrowly wide as a seventh strike eluded United.

 

What does it mean? Trouble averted - in some style

Any sort of victory would have suited Solskjaer here, with anything less likely to have ramped up the pressure on the manager's position towards breaking point.

But in tricky conditions he coaxed a display full of energy and invention from his side in difficult conditions against a side who were not without goal threat despite their lowly status.

Maguire leads by example

United's slow starts have been a problem for them this season, but captain Maguire led the charge into attack from the early stages and showed his team-mates how to take the game to their hosts.

Danns goes missing

The experience of former Leicester City man Neil Danns helped Tranmere beat Watford three days earlier, but United found it all too easy to breeze past the 37-year-old in the middle of midfield.

What's next?

United will hope to be as sharp in front of goal on Wednesday as they aim to overturn a 3-1 deficit in the second leg of their EFL Cup semi-final against Manchester City, while Tranmere entertain Sunderland in League One on the same evening.

Page 4 of 6
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.