Pogba, Martial on target as United beat Fulham
LONDON (Agencies): Paul Pogba produced another superb display as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made it 11 games unbeaten since become Manchester United manager with a 3-0 win at Fulham.
With Chelsea not in action until Sunday when they travel to Manchester City, United knew victory would bring them up to fourth place for the first time since August — and they ensured they would finish the day in the Champions League positions thanks to a Pogba double and a brilliant solo effort from Anthony Martial.
Solskjaer, with one eye on Tuesday’s Champions League clash with Paris Saint-Germain, started with Romelu Lukaku in attack as in-form Marcus Rashford was dropped on the bench.
It was Fulham who started the game stronger and should have taken the lead when Luciano Vietto squandered a brilliant chance inside two minutes. The home side created more chances with Andre Schurrle shooting over from seven yards.
And they were made to pay for their profligacy when Pogba gave United the lead on 14 minutes. Martial played his France teammate in and Pogba rifled an effort past goalkeeper Sergio Rico, who would have been disappointed to be beaten at his near post.
United doubled their lead on 23 minutes when Martial showed shades of Cristiano Ronaldo’s famous late winner at Craven Cottage in 2007. The former Monaco man picked the ball up inside his own half and ran through the Fulham defence before finishing neatly in Rico’s far corner.
The visitors looked to get a third before half-time and Phil Jones almost got himself on the scoresheet when he fired just over from the edge of the box after Fulham failed to clear a corner. Fulham were lucky not to be a man down just before interval when Calum Chambers received just a yellow card for an apparent stamp on United defender Chris Smalling.
The hosts, who started the day seven points from safety, looked unlikely to mount any sort of comeback — and the game was put to bed as a contest on 65 minutes when Pogba scored his second from penalty spot after Juan Mata had been fouled in the box.
Fulham fans made their feelings clear as they booed Schurrle when he was replaced by Cyrus Christie on 53 minutes and applauded the decision to take off Ryan Babel on 77 minutes after the Netherlands international had hit the post from point blank range. Next up for United is a huge midweek clash with PSG, while Fulham travel to the London Stadium to face West Ham on Friday.