Manchester United finally delivered the attacking football their fans have been craving as they ran out comfortable 3-0 victors over Stoke at Old Trafford on Tuesday.
- Manchester United 3 Stoke City 0
- Lingard gives United early lead
- Martial scores superb second
- Rooney adds third goal after break
- Van Gaal breathes sigh of relief
The Red Devils took the lead after just 14 minutes through Jesse Lingard – the first goal they had scored in the opening 45 minutes since September last year – and Anthony Martial doubled their advantage with a brilliant strike midway through the first half.
Wayne Rooney kept up his fine form with United's third early in the second half, the striker scoring his seventh goal in as many games to close within five of Sir Bobby Charlton's all-time record for the club.
The performance eased the pressure slightly on Louis van Gaal, whose side has lost just once since the turn of the year, but they still trailing fourth-placed Arsenal by five points in the race for the coveted final Champions League spot.
This week marked the club's anniversary of the 1958 Munich air disaster and it clearly seemed to inspire Van Gaal's team, who broke the deadlock just before the quarter-hour mark.
Cameron Borthwick-Jackson managed to get away from Glen Johnson on the wing and crossed for Lingard to score with a low header.
Nine minutes later United were two goals to the good and it was a strike to savour from Anthony Martial, who curled the ball home into the far corner after receiving the ball from Rooney inside the area on the left.
Juan Mata could have put the game to bed just before half-time, but the Spaniard guided his header wide of the target from Matteo Darmian's cross, having been completely unmarked.
Rooney thought he had gotten on the score sheet five minutes into the second half when he shrugged off Johnson before blasting the ball past Potters goalkeeper Jack Butland, but the referee blew the striker up for a foul.
However, the Red Devils captain would not be denied as he managed to score only three minutes later with a simple finish after Mata and martial had done all the hard work to tee him up at the back post.
The hosts seems happy with their three-goal cushion and eased off for the remainder of the match in what was their best attacking display this season.