Sunday Express - - FOOTBALL -

THE leap of faith re­quired to be­lieve a top-four fin­ish re­mains in reach for Manch­ester United has seemed a chasm at times this sea­son, but it looked a lit­tle bit less daunt­ing last night af­ter this vic­tory. his squad de­ci­sions re­mains the one to keep club-record sign­ing Paul Pogba on the bench – a gam­ble which loads the pres­sure on his shoul­ders when­ever his side are strug­gling in a match.

It took United just 13 min­utes of pres­sure to crack Ful­ham, Young curl­ing a fine shot in­side Ser­gio Rico’s far post af­ter ad­vanc­ing in from the left flank.

The sec­ond ar­rived just be­fore the half-hour mark with Mata cap­ping a fine flow­ing move, Phil Jones steal­ing the ball in­side his own half and ini­ti­at­ing a sweep­ing move through Young, Lukaku and Rash­ford again down the left wing.

Rash­ford’s pull-back to the edge of the area was met per­fectly by Mata, whose left-foot shot curled away from the dive of Rico.

The goal was the Spaniard’s 50th in the Pre­mier League and on a day of half cen­turies he was to bring up his 50th as­sist be­fore the break, lay­ing a neat cut­back on a plate for Lukaku to clip home.

Ful­ham boss Clau­dio Ranieri made two changes at the break, hook­ing Alek­sandr Mitro­vic and Tom Cair­ney for Aboubakar Ka­mara and Lu­ciano Vi­etto. While it added a lit­tle snap to their for­ward move­ment it was a ques­tion­able de­ci­sion which brought the break­through – Her­rera ad­judged to have felled Ka­mara in­side the area even though re­plays showed the United mid­fielder got plenty of the ball.

Ka­mara scored from the spot. But any hopes of a Ful­ham re­vival were flat­tened within a minute af­ter they went down to 10 men when An­dre-Frank An­guissa re­ceived a sec­ond yellow card for up­end­ing Rash­ford.

The United striker then capped a fine in­di­vid­ual dis­play by blast­ing home a blis­ter­ing shot from the left cor­ner of the area.

Ranieri lamented: “In the first half it was 11 lambs against 11 wolves. The wolves ate the lambs.

“The sec­ond half was much bet­ter, we played with more in­ten­sity. But I have to con­sider if that was be­cause Manch­ester United were win­ning 3-0 or we made a good per­for­mance.’’

MAN UTD ........... 4 FUL­HAM ............ 1

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