Manchester United gained ground on Manchester City after comfortably seeing off Stoke 3-0 at Old Trafford on Monday night.
Goals from fit-again Antonio Valencia, Anthony Martial and Romelu Lukaku aided by an inspired performance from Paul Pogba shrunk City’s commanding league lead over their Manchester neighbours to 12 points after Pep Guardiola’s men fell 4-3 to Liverpool in a thrilling match at Anfield on Sunday.
And it was the Ecuador international who got the Red Devils off to a dream start after just nine minutes — receiving a pass from Pogba on the wing, turning inside and unleashing an unstoppable left-footed shot into the far corner.
The assist upped the once-record signing’s total to an impressive eight on the season, despite having played in just 13 games so far due to injuries and suspension.
The in-form Frenchman then added to his tally six minutes before the break, when his cut-back at the top of the box found Martial free to perfectly curl home past Stoke goalkeeper Jack Butland without needing a second touch.
And it was Lukaku’s turn in the 72nd minute, when the struggling striker may have used a hand to control a Martial pass in the box, turned and fired his shot past Butland who was left no chance at the near post.
The win gives United 50 points from 23 matches this season, which trails only City’s total of 62 in the Premier League.