Manchester United returned to winning ways in the Premier League with a 3-1 win over struggling Middlesbrough.
Having parted company with Aitor Karanka on Thursday, hopes were high at the Riverside that Boro could turn the corner against a fatigued United side who were playing their third game in just seven days. However those aspirations were dented when Marouane Fellaini scored his first Premier League goal in 30 appearances on the half-hour mark to give the visitors a deserved lead.
Jose Mourinho made seven changes to the side that overcame FC Rostov in the Europa League on Thursday night and his second string failed to disappoint as they raced into a two-goal lead in spectacular fashion mid-way through the second-half when Jesse Lingard lashed a shot into the top corner from 20 yards.
However, Boro threw a spanner in the works when Rudy Gestede grabbed his first goal for the club with just over 10 minutes to play to set up an enthralling finish.
In response, the visitors dropped incredibly deep and were even playing with six defenders at one stage, but despite some nervy moments the Red Devils hung on and even added a third through Antonio Valencia in stoppage time thanks to a comical error from former United goalkeeper Victor Valdes.
The win means United move to fifth place in the league and only three points behind fourth-placed Liverpool, who they have played a game fewer than. Meanwhile, Middlesbrough remain in grave danger in 19th and five points from safety.
A difficult test but United pass, if only just: It’s always challenging to come up against a side with a new manager, particularly when you have played 15 more games than your opponent, but Manchester United handled the task well and fully deserved the three points, even if it wasn’t entirely convincing at times. Fourth place is now in sight for the Red Devils.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Jesse Lingard (Manchester United): The youngster caused Boro endless problems with his explosive pace on the break and he capped a wonderful performance with a terrific goal.
Middlesbrough: Valdes 7; Barragan 6, Bernardo 5, Gibson 5, Fabio 6; Leadbitter 6, Clayton 6, De Roon 7; Ramirez 7, Negredo 6, Downing 6. Subs: Gestede 7, Traore 7.
Manchester United: De Gea 7; Jones 7, Smalling 5, Bailly 5; Valencia 7, Fellaini 7, Carrick 6, Young 7; Mata 6, Rashford 7, Lingard 8. Subs: Rojo 6, Martial N/A, Darmian N/A
Read the full article on eurosport.co.uk: United finally move out of sixth as Valdes howler helps them beat Boro