Manchester United have returned to winning ways with a hard fought 3-1 victory over Middlesbrough away from home.
Marouane Fellaini gave the visitors the lead after Ashley Young’s pinpoint cross from the left exposed poor marking from the Boro defence.
Jesse Lingard celebrated his England call-up with a stunning effort from range making the most of damaging counter-attack for United to double their lead.
Substitute Rudy Gestede pulled one back for the hosts, after Chris Smalling failed to clear the ball for the Red Devils as the striker smashed home past David De Gea.
Antonio Valencia was gifted a third for the Red Devils after a slip from Victor Valdes allowed the fullback to swoop on a backpass and kill the game off.
Here are the main talking points following United’s victory:
Jose Mourinho makes for a nervous second
With United well in control of the match leading 2-0, the Portuguese boss elected to solidify his side’s defence by introducing Marcos Rojo for midfielder Juan Mata. The decision proved to be the wrong one, as the home side worked their way back into the match through Gustede. Mourinho’s decision to do so saw United playing with four centre-backs on the pitch at one time. Many United fans were left frustrated as they called for their side to put the game further beyond doubt.
In a match which Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata constantly found space in between the lines of the Boro midfield and defence, Mourinho should have simply kept things the way they were. While he had been forced to adjust his side due to injuries and suspensions, a back four is what has held his side in good stead all season long. The international break will provide the Red Devils the perfect chance to revitalise ahead of a hectic end to the season.
Boro far from finished
Boro far from finished
The result still sees the home side remain in 19th position, five points from retaining their Premier League status. Under the leadership of caretaker boss Steve Agnew, Boro appeared to enjoy a sense of freedom not seen for a matter of weeks.
If they can continue to put in these types of performances for the remainder of the season, they are sure to trouble most opposition sides. Their next three fixtures against Swansea City, Hull City and Burnley are set to play a big role in deciding their fate for next season.
Is Jesse Lingard beginning to announce his arrival?
The England international has enjoyed plenty of big moments in the past 12 months for the Old Trafford club, with goals on the biggest stage at Wembley. But the game against Boro was arguably Lingard’s best performance of the season, before he was substituted as he appeared to be suffering from a knock.
Alongside Mata, the 24-year-old provided the link between attack and defence for the visitors on a number of occasions with his pace providing a danger on the counter-attack. When coming through the youth ranks at the club, Lingard had a knack for finding the back of the net and his finishing ability was well and truly on show as he cut perfectly across the ball to find the back of the net from outside the box.