Manchester United 4-0 Crystal Palace

Marouane Fellaini has scored four goals in eight appearances this season

Manchester United put in a dominant performance to beat a terrible Crystal Palace, who have lost all seven Premier League games this season without scoring.

Unbeaten United led within three minutes when Marcus Rashford’s excellent work on the left wing ended with a cut-back to Juan Mata, who steered home from 10 yards out.

Their second came when Ashley Young crossed for Marouane Fellaini to volley home from two yards out at the back post.

Fellaini scored his second goal with a close-range header from Rashford’s free-kick early in the second half.

Romelu Lukaku scored a late fourth – his 11th goal in 10 United games – by converting Anthony Martial’s cross from close range.

The result takes United top for a couple of hours at least, with Manchester City visiting Chelsea at 17:30 BST. Palace remain bottom.

Free-scoring United win with ease
No player has scored more goals in their first seven Premier League appearances for United than Romelu Lukaku, who is level with Andrew Cole on seven

United continued their fantastic goalscoring start to the season – they have now netted 33 times in 11 games – and, against very limited opposition, they could have won by more, falling just short of matching City’s 5-0 victory over the Eagles a week ago.

The Red Devils only landed back in Manchester at 04:00 GMT on Thursday after the 4-1 Champions League win at CSKA Moscow. But, having made five changes from that game, they did not look tired at all.

In fact, they led after only three minutes when Rashford, who replaced Anthony Martial in the line-up, beat Joel Ward with some excellent skill before setting up Mata – another of those recalled – on the Spaniard’s 200th Premier League appearance.

Fellaini then scored twice, from crosses by Young and Rashford.

United eased up at this point – there would have been more goals available had they maintained the level of their early performance. But they did get another when Lukaku, who has failed to score in only one of his United games, lashed home Martial’s cross late on.

Jose Mourinho’s side had other chances – Chris Smalling headed just wide, Rashford and Martial were denied by good Wayne Hennessey saves, and Lukaku dragged a shot inches wide having sent the keeper the wrong way.

Palace’s record-breaking start continues

No team in 129 years of the Football League had ever lost their first six league games without scoring – until Palace reached that landmark last week. That record is now extended to seven matches.

The Eagles were relatively organised in defence – this is the fourth time in five games United have scored four goals after all. But Roy Hodgson’s side were so short of confidence – or ideas – going forward.

With Christian Benteke ruled out for six weeks, and few other options, they lacked anyone to hold onto the ball up front. Bakary Sako, a winger, had to play as the central forward but he is no target man.

They do have one striker – 24-year-old Freddie Ladapo, who came on for his debut in the second half. Most of his goals have come for non-league Grays and Margate, and his previous appearance was for Shrewsbury against Walsall in April.

Having struggled to score with Benteke, they never looked like doing so without him. Their six shots against United, only one on target from Sako, were mostly from distance.

You have to go back two managers – to Sam Allardyce – to the last time Palace scored or picked up a point in the Premier League. Frank de Boer was only given four league games, and Hodgson – who has a huge task on his hands – has now had three.

It is still early days, but if they do not start improving, they could join Swindon Town, Derby County, Portsmouth, Sunderland and Aston Villa on the list of worst teams in Premier League history.

Man of the match – Marouane Fellaini (Manchester United)
Marouane Fellaini scored twice and gained possession more times than any other United player (12)Manager reaction – Mourinho hails two-goal Fellaini
I trusted Fellaini since day one – Mourinho

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho praised oft-maligned midfielder Fellaini, who scored twice in one match for the club for the first time.

The Belgian was strongly linked with a move to Galatasaray in the summer.

“I always trusted Marouane since day one and try to give him confidence and show him how useful he is for the team,” Mourinho told BBC Sport.

“Sometimes we like players others don’t like. Some players perform better with some of us [managers] than with others and I have examples of players that didn’t perform well for me and then performed well for other managers.

“I think Marouane has important qualities and I try to use them depending on the situation and what they team needs. He plays with me as a defensive midfielder, as a second striker, as one of two midfielders. He is a team player. A great character. We have a good relationship and things are going really well between us.

“I think only a strong character could resist the difficulties here because he had some difficult times when people didn’t recognise his qualities, when other managers didn’t like so much the qualities he has. He had to be a strong character. He is a fighter, a guy with lots of pride and I am really pleased I helped him reach this level and change the perception the fans have now. I am really happy for him.”

Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson said: “The quality these teams have, they don’t miss chances.

“Coming into the game this week, we thought if things go our way, we could have got something out of the game.

“The messages being put across are being grasped by the players. We now have Chelsea and it doesn’t get any easier.

“The past three weeks’ work has been good but this break will be good to get more work done. The fans are brilliant and that support will help us through.”

Man Utd 4-0 Crystal Palace: Eagles wounded at the moment – Roy HodgsonMatch stats – Palace on brink of more unwanted historyIf Crystal Palace fail to score against Chelsea in their next game, they will equal Halifax’s 1990-91 record of eight games without scoring a goal at the start of a Football League season.Palace have lost eight consecutive league games without scoring (going back into last season), the joint-longest run in English league history alongside Hartlepool (1970 and 1993) and Sunderland (1977).The Eagles remain the only team in Europe’s big five leagues yet to score a league goal this season.Manchester United have never lost a Premier League game against Palace (W14 D3 L0). The Red Devils have set a Premier League record for most games without losing to a single opponent.Palace are only the second team to lose their opening seven games in a Premier League season, after Portsmouth in 2009-10.Marouane Fellaini has scored three goals from four shots in the Premier League so far in 2017-18 – more than in the previous two seasons combined (two goals from 46 shots). Juan Mata, who made his 200th Premier League appearance (the seventh Spanish player to reach this feat), ended a run of 809 minutes without a league goal. Marcus Rashford has had a hand in nine goals in his past 10 games for United in all competitions (five goals, four assists).Rashford provided two assists in a single competitive game for the first time in his United career.United kept five consecutive Premier League clean sheets at Old Trafford for the first time since a seven-game run in March 2010 under Sir Alex Ferguson.Analysis – ‘You fear for Palace’

Former England winger Chris Waddle on BBC Radio 5 live

It’s an easy victory for Manchester United. Roy Hodgson set his stall out, had them organised but Manchester United were deserved winners and cruised through this game.

Palace are low on confidence and belief. It’s going to be a massive job for Hodgson to turn this round. On today’s performance, you fear for them.

Hodgson’s worked hard – you can see that from the shape of their team – but they had a terrible start and their heads dropped.

In the second half they had a bit of the ball but that’s because Manchester United stepped off the pace and let them have it. They didn’t ever threaten David de Gea.

What’s next?

The Premier League returns in two weeks, after the international break. United have arguably their toughest test of the season – at arch-rivals Liverpool (12:30 BST on Saturday, 14 October).

Palace continue their run of facing the three title favourites in a row. They are at home to Chelsea at 15:00 BST that day.

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