Winning start for Ole

CARDIFF. — Ole Gunnar Solskjaer praised his Manchester United players after they gave him the perfect start to his reign with a 5-1 victory at Cardiff on Saturday night just days after Jose Mourinho was sacked.

Former United striker Solskjaer had just two days to prepare his players for his first match as caretaker manager.

Marcus Rashford opened the scoring in the third minute and a goal from Ander Herrera just before the half-hour gave them a 2-0 lead.

Cardiff pulled a goal back through a Victor Camarasa penalty in the 38th minute but Anthony Martial restored the two-goal margin minutes later and two goals from Jesse Lingard in the second half added gloss to the scoreline.

United scored five goals in a Premier League game for the first time since Sir Alex Ferguson’s final game in May 2013.

“Football is easy if you’ve got good players,” the Norwegian interim manager told BT Sport. “They are a great bunch of players and their quality is unbelievable.

“I arrived on Wednesday night and only had Thursday and Friday with the players. Wayne Rooney texted me and gave me some advice — so it must be down to him. He told me to make them play football, enjoy themselves and be Manchester United.”

Solskjaer said he had worked on patterns of play and focused on getting full-backs Ashley Young and Luke Shaw to push on higher up the pitch.

“Your workrate is the easiest thing to work on,” he said. “It is free. It is the attitude and application of the boys.

“If we approach all the games like this — and we want them to approach them all like this — with combination play and playing the ball forward then I’ll be happy.

“The foundation was in the defending today. I thought the two centre-backs and two full-backs were brilliant today.”

He said he was not daunted by the eight-point gap between United and the top four.

“I was proud and humble at the reception from the fans, it has been emotional all week,” he said. “But it’s a start and we move on.”

Goalscorer Lingard said United played with “energy, enjoyment and excitement”.

“When you’ve got confidence, you put yourselves in positions to score goals,” he said. “That’s what we did.

“We were playing higher and the full-backs were higher. We pinned them back and created a lot of chances.”

Meanwhile, Manchester City slumped to a second defeat in three English Premier League games to hand Liverpool an early Christmas present in the title race as Crystal Palace shocked the Etihad with a 3-2 win on Saturday.

Chelsea were also stunned at home by Jamie Vardy’s winner for Leicester in a 1-0 victory at Stamford Bridge to allow Arsenal to move level on points with their London rivals in fourth after a 3-1 win over Burnley.

Liverpool opened up a four-point lead at the top with a highly impressive 2-0 win at Wolves on Friday to extend their unbeaten start to the campaign.

And City failed to cut the gap as they dropped points at home for the first time this season despite going ahead through Ilkay Gundogan’s header.

Jeffrey Schlupp levelled for Palace against the run of play just after the half-hour mark and two minutes later Andros Townsend thumped a stunning volley into the top corner from well outside the area.

Pep Guardiola summoned Sergio Aguero from the bench soon after the break, but City had a mountain to climb when Kyle Walker chopped down Max Meyer and Luka Milivojevic dispatched the resulting penalty. Kevin De Bruyne was also thrown on to try and turn the game around and his intended cross that flew in off the post brought City back into the game five minutes from time.

But despite incessant pressure, the champions could not find an equaliser to hand Liverpool a huge boost ahead of their trip to City on January 3.

Source : The Herald

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