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Manchester United 3-0 Stoke: Antonio Valencia, Anthony Martial and Romelu Lukaku strike as Man-U bec


A Paul Pogba-inspired Manchester United cruised to victory as incoming Stoke boss Paul Lambert watched his new side's struggles continue at Old Trafford, BBC reported

The France midfielder created first-half goals for Antonio Valencia and Anthony Martial, added to by Romelu Lukaku after the break as Jose Mourinho's men cut Manchester City's lead at the top of the Premier League to 12 points

United might have had an early penalty when Martial was felled by Stoke debutant Moritz Bauer, but referee Anthony Taylor waved away protests.

Two minutes later, Pogba charged forward and found Valencia, who cut inside Josh Tymon and fired into the top corner with his left foot.

Martial collected Pogba's pass and bent a superb finish past goalkeeper Jack Butland from 20 yards for the second - before Lukaku rifled home the third late in the game.

Stoke did create several chances. Midfielder Stephen Ireland - starting his first game since April 2015 - should have scored from 12 yards but fired wide, and goalkeeper David de Gea made excellent stops to deny Xherdan Shaqiri and substitute Mame Biram Diouf.

The Potters, beaten by three or more goals for the seventh time this season, remain in the relegation zone, a point adrift of fourth-bottom Southampton.

It might have been worse but for the reactions of England international Butland, who prevented United substitute Marcus Rashford from adding a fourth goal, BBC reported

Manchester United rarely had to get out of second gear in the drizzle at Old Trafford.

However, they were clinical in front of goal, scoring twice from three first-half shots on target against the top flight's worst defence.

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But one question in the United dressing room, and in the stands, afterwards could have been: where will Alexis Sanchez fit in if his signing is confirmed?, BBC reported

United are favourites to recruit the Chile forward - who has scored 80 goals for Arsenal since 2014 - after Manchester City decided not to pursue their interest in the 29-year-old.

If the current occupants of United's attacking sports are concerned, their reply was telling.

Martial scored and assisted, while Lukaku, on his return from injury, shook off some poor touches earlier in the game to turn strongly past two defenders and fire low and hard past Butland late on.

Juan Mata went close before being replaced near the end, and Jesse Lingard's quick movement won United four free-kicks.

Mourinho has often experimented with his attacking options this season, and it is Sanchez's versatility - along with his big-game credentials - which is likely to be at the forefront of the Portuguese manager's thinking.

Sanchez can operate on either flank, lead the line or drop into the number 10 role - so no individual appears most at risk of losing their place.

With United still competing on three fronts - Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League - he would add experience to a young attacking unit with potential to continue improving.

Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho was full of praise for Paul Pogba and revealed his team's profile was changing to suit the midfielder.

Mourinho hailed the football star and said United could become Pogba's team.

"He was moving the ball fantastically well, with long passes changing the direction and creating problems for the opponent," he said.

"He had an assist and if he had scored the free-kick with the last shot of the game, it would be really a reward for him.

"I think he is happy with the way the team is playing and he's happy because the team is changing the profile and the profile is going more in his direction."

After Pogba assisted Antonio Valencia and Anthony Martial, Romelu Lukaku sealed United's win and moved them within 12 points of league leaders Manchester City.

Mourinho disclosed that Martial had scored a similar goal in training, but it was set up by the manager.

"He scored yesterday [on Sunday] the same goal in training but instead of Paul's pass, it was my pass," he said.

"I was making the assists for the finishing. It was a great assist and the same shot."

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