Manchester United made a blistering start to life after Jose Mourinho with a 5-1 rout of relegation strugglers Cardiff City - the first time they have hit five goals since Sir Alex Ferguson's last game as manager in May 2013.
With Ole Gunnar Solskjaer taking charge of United for the first time as interim manager at the Cardiff City Stadium, United simply blew the hosts away with three goals hitting the net before the break.
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Marcus Rashford's free-kick on three minutes and Ander Herrera's deflected long-range strike on 29 minutes put the visitors 2-0 ahead before Anthony Martial finished off a brilliant sweeping team move for a third after Víctor Camarasa converted a penalty from Rashford's handball.

Marcus Rashford celebrates with Manchester United's English midfielder Jesse Lingard after scoring the opening goal of the English Premier League football match between between Cardiff City and Manchester United.

Image credit: Eurosport

United put the icing on the cake when Jesse Lingard converted a penalty after the England international had been fouled by Sol Bamba before the forward added a fifth in the final minute of normal time.
It was a magical return for Solskjaer to Cardiff, a club where he was sacked as manager four years ago after relegation from the Premier League and a struggling start to life in the Championship.
Cardiff remain 17th in the table, but United leapfrog Watford into sixth place and will aim to continue their recovery against Huddersfield at Old Trafford on Boxing Day.

TALKING POINT: What a difference a week can make

The last time we saw Manchester United they were embarrassed at the home of one of their great rivals, who will spend Christmas Day atop of the Premier League table. It seems highly unlikely that United will be able to catch-up to Liverpool this season but already the mood has lifted around the club.

solskjaer manchester united

Image credit: Getty Images

Solskjaer didn't tweak too much from a tactical standpoint, he simply encouraged United to play wider and trust their attacking instincts. The result? A fabulous second half with United playing some of their best football since Ferguson left.
It's amazing what can happen when professional players are made to feel good about themselves isn't it? Sterner tests are to come but for now United and Solskjaer should enjoy this result after the turgid last few months.

MAN OF THE MATCH: Anthony Martial (Manchester United)

A tough call with Lingard and Pogba both excelling in the second-half, but Martial symbolised the shift in this United team under Solskjaer more than anyone. So often marginalised and criticised by Mourinho, he was able to show exactly what he is capable of in this looser system.

Anthony Martial (Manchester United) celebrates with Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard

Image credit: Getty Images

Martial ran at the defence with pace and control, a frightening combination for any back line, and he was involved in the best goal of the night, playing some lovely one-touch football before finishing well.
The way the front three operated, ably supported by Pogba, is enough to get any United fan off their feet and the Frenchman could finally start to fulfil some of the promise he showed when he scored on his debut against Liverpool over three years ago.

PLAYER RATINGS

  • Cardiff City - Etheridge 6, Manga 3, Bamba 4, Morrison 4, Cunningham 4, Gunnarsson 5, Camarasa 5, Arter 4, Hoilett 3, Paterson 5, Murphy 5..subs: Zohore 5, Harris 5, Ralls N/A
  • Manchester United - De Gea 6, Young 6, Lindelof 7, Jones 5, Shaw 5, Matic 6, Herrera 6, Pogba 7, Lingard 8, Rashford 7, Martial 8..subs: Fred 5, Fellaini N/A, Pereira N/A

KEY MOMENTS

  • 3' - GOAL! CARDIFF CITY 0-1 MANCHESTER UNITED (MARCUS RASHFORD) - Perfect start for United! They win a free-kick in a dangerous area. Paul Pogba stands over but he dummies it and in comes Rashford. His free-kick arrows into the bottom corner. Might have taken a slight deflection but when your luck's in!
  • 29' - GOAL! CARDIFF CITY 0-2 MANCHESTER UNITED (ANDER HERRERA) Out of nowhere United have doubled their lead! De Gea lumps it up and Pogba plays it off to Herrera. No-one closes him down so he decides to have a go. It cannons off Cunningham, over Etheridge and into the goal. Funny how luck can change all of a sudden...
  • 38' - GOAL! CARDIFF CITY 1-2 MANCHESTER UNITED (VICTOR CAMARASA) Fantastic penalty from Camarasa as he smashes it into the corner. Game on...
  • 41' - GOAL! CARDIFF CITY 1-3 MANCHESTER UNITED (ANTHONY MARTIAL) Oh that is absolutely sensational from United, that's what their fans have been waiting for with Solskjaer's appointment. The interplay between the forward players there was wonderful there and Martial calmly slotted it into the corner.
  • 57' - GOAL! CARDIFF CITY 1-4 MANCHESTER UNITED (JESSE LINGARD) Lingard takes the ball off regular taker Pogba but doesn't mess it up as he slams the ball into the corner. A second excellent penalty from this match and now it's a question of how many for United you suspect...
  • 90' - GOAL! CARDIFF CITY 1-5 MANCHESTER UNITED (JESSE LINGARD) Simple as you like! Lovely goal as Pogba strolls forward, slips it through to Lingard, who rounds Etheridge and tucks it home. The first time United have scored five since Sir Alex Ferguson's final game.

KEY STATS

  • Manchester United scored 5+ goals in a Premier League game for the first time since Sir Alex Ferguson’s final match in charge, in May 2013 against West Brom (5-5).
  • Since Sir Alex Ferguson left the club, four of the five different managers to take charge of Manchester United have seen their side score 3+ goals in their first Premier League game (Moyes 4, Mourinho 3, Giggs 4 and Solskjaer 5).
  • Anthony Martial has been directly involved in 70 goals for Manchester United in all competitions (45 goals, 25 assists); the most of any player for the club since his debut in September 2015.
  • Marcus Rashford has had a hand in more Premier League goals this season than any other Manchester United player (9 – four goals and five assists).
  • Anthony Martial made his 100th appearance for Manchester United in the Premier League, becoming just the fourth Frenchman to reach this tally for the club after Eric Cantona, Mikael Silvestre and Patrice Evra.
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