Manchester United returned back to winning ways under new caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. The Reds thrashed Cardiff City at home and in style.It was a clinical performance put up by the rejuvenated United side following Jose Mourinho’s sacking a few days earlier.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) December 22, 2018
Marcus Rashford kicked off the proceedings against Cardiff as soon as the third minute with a lovely free kick that flew past the wall and into the net. It made the fans reminisce the good old days of Ronaldo’s knuckle-ball free-kicks.
It got them to a perfect start before a breathtaking long ranger from Ander Herrera that doubled the lead against Cardiff for the visitors.The 30 yard thunderbolt had a hint of deflection before it flew into the net well past Neil Etheridge. Soon,Victor Camaras pulled a goal back for the home team from the penalty spot after Marcus Rashford was harshly judged for handling the ball.
This,however didn’t affect the spirit of the team as three minutes later Anthony Martial slotted home his 8th premier league goal of this season.It was a remarkable team goal just before half time to restore the two goal cushion against Cardiff. Jesse Lingard then followed a fourth with a calm finish from the penalty spot early in the second half. He later put the icing on the cake when he coolly finished a through ball from Paul Pogba to make the scoreline Cardiff City 1 – 5 Manchester United.
70 – Anthony Martial has been directly involved in 70 goals for Manchester United in all competitions (45 goals, 25 assists); the most of any player for the club since his debut. Proven. #CARMUN pic.twitter.com/TOqvBCjk0Q
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 22, 2018
This was the first instance when the Red Devils managed to score 5 goals in a Premier League match since Alex Ferguson departed. It took them 5 managers and five and a half years to score five goals since the 5-5 vs West Bromwich. The result also meant the Red Devils successfully bounced back from the devastating defeat earlier at Anfield. It was an early delightful Christmas Present from the team for the fans.
Solskjaer had just two days to evaluate his squad for the visit to Cardiff. With numerous injuries in the squad,the interim manager made four changes to the team.Luke Shaw, Phil Jones, Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba all returned to the starting XI against Cardiff after being previously assigned to the bench at Anfield.
Solskjaer had previously laid emphasis on how he wanted the team to “go out there express and enjoy themselves” and players did exactly that in Cardiff. The Red Devils for the first time dominated their opponents completely with and without the ball. It was an eye candy for the fans who travelled to Cardiff as they watched their team unravel delightful attacking football.Since Sir Alex’s departure this was the first instance of free-flowing football at its best.
For the first time in five years instead of laying back and holding the lead,United replied back.They replied back in a typical United fashion. Pogba, Lingard and Martial played some beautiful tiki-taka before Martial slipped it into the far corner.It was the perfect response,and restored their two goal cushion before half-time.
— Peter Schmeichel (@Pschmeichel1) December 22, 2018
United maintained the pressure in the second half and started with the same intensity they left in the first-half.It did not take them long to find their fourth goal of the evening.Jesse Lingard started his incisive penetration into the Cardiff defense only to be tripped by Souleymane Bamba. Pogba allowed Lingard to take the spot-kick and he didn’t fail to deliver as he calmly slotted it into the right corner.
The Reds were not done yet and kept attacking. Rashford, Jones, Pogba all tried their luck at the goal from near and far only to be denied by Etheridge. United forced many saves from the Cardiff keeper. It was the hunger for more goals that helped Lingard latch onto Pogba’s through ball as he slotted it into the empty net.
The match saw the resurgence of the team that the fans had long wished to see.It took the fans back in time to the glory days of Sir Alex’s reign. The players were much more confident against Cardiff than they have been the whole season. They showed flashes of brilliance and the link up play was exquisite. The camaraderie and mood of the players definitely seems to have been restored.
Jesse Lingard's direct goal in involvements in 13 league games before today: 2
Jesse Lingard's direct goal involvements today: 2
Thriving already. ??? pic.twitter.com/EhFCo6h3Rf
— Statman Dave (@StatmanDave) December 22, 2018
Overall the atmosphere was great in the away end and it showed on the field. David De Gea was hardly troubled between the sticks as United had a lion’s share of ball possession against Cardiff, 75% to be precise.This was a team who were no longer bound. They played free and expressive football. This is surely a sign of good things to come under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for Manchester United.
Manchester United will now host Huddersfield at Old Trafford after Christmas in the Premier League.