Manchester United earned their first Premier League win in five games with a comfortable 4-1 victory over bottom side Fulham at Old Trafford on Saturday.
With record signing Paul Pogba on the bench once more, United wasted no time in finding their rhythm, as Ashley Young scored his first goal in all competitons for United since 2017 to break the deadlock in the 13th minute.
Juan Mata stroked home a second to score his 50th Premier League goal in the 28th minute, before Romelu Lukaku scored his first home goal since March to make it 3-0 before halftime.
Coming into the encounter with a negative goal difference, United were in need of a confidence-building performance and a contest against the Premier League’s most porous defence was just what the doctor ordered.
Fulham remained under the cosh after the break but managed a consolation through Aboubakar Kamara’s penalty.
But Andre-Frank Anguissa was sent off for Fulham before Marcus Rashford scored a fourth late on to complete a miserable afternoon for Claudio Ranieri’s strugglers.
A first three points in the league since early November ensured United climbed to sixth, seven points off the top four, with Chelsea in fifth not in action until later on Saturday.
Fulham remain bottom, three points from the safety zone.
“The players have shown they can be a better team than they are,” manager Jose Mourinho said. “At times it was beautiful football. The first half was perfect. We were really good. We needed it.”
Lukaku’s inclusion was one of four changes to the side that drew against Arsenal in midweek, meaning Mourinho has made 50 changes to his starting line-up already this season.
One of those other changes, Young, got the ball rolling, nutmegging his marker to slot home, before an equally fine finish from Mata saw him reach his goalscoring half century.
Fulham goalkeeper Sergio Rico was then called into a action once more, keeping out a fierce Rashford strike, before Mata cut the ball back for Lukuku to score his first Old Trafford goal in 997 minutes in all competitions.
“The first half was only Manchester United with powerful qualities,” Ranieri said. “Second half was much better. We had the desire to do our best.”
After the break, Ander Herrera missed a glorious chance to make it four, before the Spaniard felled Kamara in the box to concede a penalty, which Kamara converted with ease.
Anguissa’s red card after earning his second yellow made things yet more difficult for Fulham, before Rashford completed the rout eight minutes from time, squeezing his effort in at the near post.
Superb Mohamed Salah treble at Bournemouth sends Liverpool top
Liverpool maintained their best start to a season as Mo Salah, back at his dazzling best, scored a hat-trick in a 4-0 win at Bournemouth that took them, temporarily at least, to the top of the Premier League on Saturday.
Salah set them on their way in the 25th minute, latching on to the rebound after Roberto Firmino’s 30-metre shot was palmed into his path by Asmir Begovic, even though television replays showed the Egyptian to be marginally offside when he pounced.
There was no argument about his second strike straight after the interval when Firmino again freed him to maraud on goal and fire into the corner, with the help of the slightest nick off Nathan Ake’s heel.
After the unfortunate Steve Cook diverted Andy Robertson’s cross past Begovic for an own goal, Salah worked his real magic, outmuscling Cook to get to Adam Lallana’s through ball before dancing nimbly around Begovic and slotting home late on.
Salah’s treble at the Vitality Stadium put him on 10 league goals this season, matching Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang at the top of the scoring charts that he dominated last season.
Against tough, seventh-placed opponents, Jurgen Klopp’s side went a 17th straight league match unbeaten, equalling their club record set 10 years ago, and emulated the 4-0 thrashing of the Cherries in the corresponding fixture last season.
It put them a point clear of Manchester City at the summit on 42 points, though Pep Guardiola’s men have the chance to regain top spot later when they visit Chelsea.
It was a splendid afternoon for Liverpool’s James Milner to celebrate becoming only the 13th player to make 500 top-flight appearances in the Premier League era.
Salah even gave his own man-of-the match award to his 32-year-old team mate to mark his achievement.
“He’s had an amazing career. I have to congratulate him on an amazing career — he deserves this today,” Salah told Milner on Sky Sports. “I will not take it.”
As he clutched the match ball after his second Liverpool hat-trick, the Egyptian added: “It wasn’t a bad way at all (to get back among the goals)…I enjoyed the last one the most. I was calm.”
Now getting back into his most imperious stride after a slow start to the campaign, Salah added: “My expectations are very high.
“I know everyone else’s expectations of me are also very high but the most important thing is for us to win each game and be top of the table.”
For Milner, it was a special afternoon after 16 years of excellence in the Premier League. “It’s the perfect way to celebrate it (the 500th appearance),” he said.
“It wasn’t our best performance of the season by any means but we were efficient, got the job done and this fella (Salah) is unbelievable… He can win you a game on his own.”
Torreira breaks Huddersfield hearts with late Arsenal winner
Lucas Torreira scored with a bicycle kick in the 82nd minute to earn Arsenal a 1-0 win over Huddersfield Town in a scrappy Premier League game on Saturday.
The Uruguayan leapt to volley the ball from a Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang pass across the face of goal, securing all three points for the Gunners who otherwise only distinguished themselves by having three players booked for diving.
“Our goal is coming later, but it is giving us a deserved result eventually,” Arsenal manager Unai Emery told reporters.
The first half was a comedy of errors for Arsenal, with strikers Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette missing clear scoring opportunities and midfield lynchpin Granit Xhaka frequently passing the ball straight to the opposition.
Referee Paul Tierney dished out seven yellow cards in the half, and nine in the whole match. Arsenal’s Xhaka, Shkodran Mustafi and Matteo Guendouzi were all booked for simulation.
Lacazette appeared to break the stalemate just before halftime, latching on to a sloppy backpass and sidestepping keeper Jonas Lossl to slot the ball into the net, only to be ruled offside. Lossl then tipped a Torreira shot from outside the area just over the bar.
In the end, it fell to a moment of acrobatics from the little Uruguayan to rob the visitors of a much-needed point.
“(Torreira) has quality and he is hungry. He can get into the box and score like today,” Emery said.
“I think today is a very important result.”
Arsenal climbed to third in the table ahead of Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur’s matches later on Saturday, while Huddersfield slipped back into the relegation zone, in 18th place.
Huddersfield, who have not beaten Arsenal since 1971, were unable to register a shot on goal despite breaking up Arsenal’s rhythm for most of the match.
Their manager David Wagner was understandably disappointed not to have held on for the draw.
“If you concede so late in the game, and because of the defensive shift and effort and tactical quality which the players have shown – how we limited Arsenal, how we kept them away from our goal – this is enough if you are Huddersfield Town to deserve a point,” he said.
“Unfortunately we have it not, which is obviously disappointing,” he said.
He was still keen to focus on the positives.
“I can see how we performed defensively today against a top-class side and I know we can keep our heads high,” Wagner said.