Cardiff - Ole
Gunnar Solskjaer made an instant impact as Manchester United caretaker
manager with Paul Pogba to the fore in a transformed performance from
the final days of Jose Mourinho's reign in a 5-1 thumping of Cardiff on
Solskjaer has been put in charge until the end of the season after
Mourinho was sacked on Tuesday and could not have asked for a better
start in the Welsh capital thanks to Marcus Rashford's third-minute
The visitors also had a slice of fortune when Ander Herrera's strike deflected in to double their advantage.
But United shrugged off Victor Camarasa's penalty, awarded for a
dubious handball call on Rashford, with the sort of free-flowing play
that appeared so scarcely under Mourinho as Anthony Martial started and
finished a fine move also including Pogba and Jesse Lingard.
And Lingard struck twice more in the second half to secure United's biggest win of the season so far.
As well as getting Solskjaer off to a flying start, victory also sees
United crucially close the gap on the Premier League top four to eight
points thanks to Chelsea's 1-0 home defeat by Leicester earlier in the
Pogba was forced to watch the full 90 minutes from the bench last
weekend as Liverpool inflicted the final blow to Mourinho's time in
charge with a 3-1 win that left United 19 points off the top after just
The French World Cup-winner was restored from the start for the first
time in four league games and looked far more like the player United
splashed a then world-record £89 million on in 2016 than
the one that clashed with his former boss off the field and disappointed
on it for much of the past two seasons.
was Pogba who was felled on the edge of the Cardiff area early on and
he stepped over the ball for Rashford to take aim with a dipping effort
that deceived home goalkeeper Neil Etheridge and nestled in his bottom
Solskjaer won only three of his 18 Premier League games in charge of
Cardiff during an ill-fated spell that ended with relegation in 2014.
But a winning return to Wales rarely looked in doubt thereafter as
the visiting fans enthusiastically chanted the Norwegian's name
The travelling hordes were enjoying their side moving the ball around
with a speed and accuracy more reminiscent of Solskjaer's days as a
player at Old Trafford when United dominated English football.
Pogba was at the heart of it and his intelligent pass picked out
Herrera, whose shot flicked off Greg Cunningham to loop over the
If Solskjaer's side were fortunate then, it was Cardiff who got a
break nine minutes later when the assistant referee adjudged Rashford to
have handled rather than control the ball with his shoulder inside the
Camarasa's perfectly-taken penalty could have sparked a collapse for a team short on confidence in recent times.
Instead, United responded resoundingly with a fantastic team goal as a
quick interchange of passes between Pogba and Lingard freed Martial to
score his ninth goal of the season.
Lingard took responsibility from the spot just before the hour mark
after another soft penalty was awarded for a foul by Sol Bamba on the
And the England international was the beneficiary of another
defence-splitting pass from Pogba a minute from time as he rounded
Etheridge and slotted into an empty net.