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Fulham 0-3 Man Utd: Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial send United fourth

The French midfielder opened the scoring with a superb shot from a tight angle in the 14th minute before Anthony Martial made it 2-0 with his brilliant solo goal.

Pogba then converted a second-half penalty to maintain the Red Devils’ unbeaten run under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and, crucially, move United above Chelsea in fourth place in the Premier League standings.

Maurizio Sarri’s side can retake that spot should they beat Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday, but United’s resurgence marks a remarkable turnaround in fortunes since Jose Mourinho was sacked by the club in December.

Despite looking bright and much improved in an atacking sense, Fulham’s carelessness with the ball coupled with their defensive woes proved their downfall on Saturday – with the loss keeping the club languishing seven points off safety.

Claudio Ranieri spoke at length in the build-up to this match about how he wanted to see his team move the ball quickly up the field when in possession and avoid passing sideways or backwards.

The reason, the Italian said, was to avoid opposition teams winning back possession and launching successful counter-attacks.

And it was clear to see, within just seconds of the game starting on what was a windy and blustery day in Fulham, that the hosts had taken heed of Ranieri’s words.

Ryan Babel was twice behind two Fulham attacks within the opening four minutes which, first saw an unmarked Luciano Vietto latch onto Andre Schurrle’s pass but somehow drive wide from inside the box before the former fired over a loose ball moments after Aleksandar Mitrovic failed to win a penalty following a grapple with Chris Smalling.

United quickly recovered themselves and made Fulham pay for those missed chances when Pogba received Martial’s pass and go for goal from a tight angle – seeing his shot go rifling into the roof of the net.

Martial then doubled United’s advantage with a special goal, which was started by Phil Jones who threaded a brilliant through-ball to the Frenchman on the left.

Martial proceeded to embark on a long solo run, which saw him shrug off Denis Odoi and side-foot a lovely effort past Sergio Rico in the 23rd minute.

Despite being two goals down, Fulham reacted well – with Babel once again the inspiration behind yet another attack although the forward was left incensed and baffled when referee Paul Tierney didn’t award a penalty for an apparent handball by Jones in the box.

The United defender, who on Friday signed a new deal until 2023 at United, came close to making it 3-0 minutes before the break but saw Rico tip his long-range shot over the bar.

Calum Chambers did force a save from David De Gea down the other end of the pitch while Babel missed a sitter in the 77th minute before Mitrovic saw an effort saved by De Gea but those chances highlighted, once again, just how wasteful Fulham were in terms of converting their opportunities at goal.

In truth, though, Fulham never looked like getting back into the game as Pogba converted a penalty given for Maxime Le Marchand’s foul on Juan Mata in the box to put the game out of sight for the hosts.

The road to avoiding relegation looks a long one for Fulham but, in contrast, United will have more hope than ever that they can do what many thought impossible just a few months ago and secure a Champions League spot for next season.

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