Marouane Fellaini registered his first-ever brace in a Manchester United jersey as the Red Devils swept aside bottom-ranked Crystal Palace 4-0 in an extremely one-sided Premier League tie at Old Trafford on Saturday.
United went top of the Premier League, at least temporarily with the win and will head into the international break with plenty of confidence for yet again, the Red Devils won by a resounding margin without ever moving into top gear.
Juan Mata (playing his 200th Premier League, no less) got the hosts off to a flyer, after Marcus Rashford bamboozled his marker on the left wing and his precise cut-back was caressed into the net by the diminutive Spaniard in the third minute.
After the early goal, the visiting fans feared their team would be smashed by a dominant United side but Palace responded well and actually started to grow into the game.
However, United showcased their killer instinct when Fellaini nodded home from the far-post after left-back Ashley Young found him with an excellent delivery and the Belgian rose high to double his side’s lead 10 minutes before half-time.
Palace, the only team in the English top-flight yet to score, had just the one chance of note when Bakary Sako stung David de Gea’s palm’s with a fierce drive from an acute angle but the Spaniard beat the ball away without much fuss.
United began the second-half with a bit more urgency than the first, as if Jose Mourinho had told his players to get the third goal quickly to put the game beyond doubt.
And their pressure paid off when Fellaini scored his second header of the night with just four second-half minutes played. Marcus Rashford sent in a fizzing free-kick and Fellaini climbed above everyone else to head home.
Mourinho took off Henrikh Mkhitaryan after the hour-mark and as the clock ticked, brought on Anthony Martial and Ander Herrera as well as he sought to see the game out without a hitch.
Palace, without main striker Christian Benteke, looked toothless in attack and all the second-half chances fell to the home side, with top scorer Romelu Lukaku and Martial guilty of missing gilt-edged chances.
Lukaku, however, wasn’t to be denied and tapped-in his seventh league goal of the season after Martial had sent a low cross across the box which was greedily lapped up by the burly Belgian.
Tottenham Hotspur had beaten Huddersfield Town 4-0 earlier on Saturday to reduce the point between them and United to just two points, but now the Red Devils are topping the league with a three point lead over second-placed Manchester City.
City play defending champions Chelsea later in the day and should they be able to clinch a win, they will head into the international break on top of the league due to their superior goal difference but should they drop points for the second time this season, United will be ahead.