Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was left purring by the quality of his squad after seeing his side thump bitter rivals Leeds 5-1 at Old Trafford in their opening Premier League fixture.
The major story in the pre-match build-up for Solskjaer’s side was the inclusion of £73m man Jadon Sancho on the bench, with fellow summer signing Raphael Varane not involved, albeit with the Frenchman announced to the home crowd prior to kick-off.
Buoyed by that raucous Old Trafford support, it was the hosts who made the better start. First coming close through Mason Greenwood’s deflected effort which Ilian Meslier was forced to claw away, Paul Pogba then perhaps should have done better with his left-footed effort just moments later.
As ever, Leeds remained a threat on the break, yet it was United who deservedly took the lead on 30 minutes, a delightful Pogba flick putting Bruno Fernandes in on goal, the Portuguese playmaker duly slotting home via the legs of the opposition stopper.
While it was a lively first-half, the game really sparked into life in a relentless start to the second period, Leeds’ Luke Ayling drawing his side level with a stunning long-range effort, before United hit back quickly with a breathtaking counter-attack, Pogba teeing up Greenwood who typically fired home from an acute angle.
Just two minutes later and that lead was extended, Pogba once again the provider as Fernandes added his second of the match with a drilled left-footed finish that just about edged over the line despite Ayling’s clearance.
The Red Devils talisman then wrapped up his hat-trick on 60 minutes, latching onto an exquisite Victor Lindelof pass and firing high past Meslier into the roof of the net, before Fred added the gloss on the scoreline moments later with a rare goal following yet another Pogba assist.
The was also to be the introduction of new man Sancho late on, yet that proved to be the end of the drama as the home side coasted to a thumping opening day win.
Speaking afterwards Red Devils boss Solskjaer was understandably delighted by his sides showing.
“Of course when Bruno scores three and Paul gets four assists, the headlines are going to be about them two,” he told BBC‘s Match of the Day.
“But for me it’s about the team. Those two can produce the big moments because of what’s around them. Mason [Greenwood]’s development has been great. He’s become a man compared to two years ago.”
“I’m very happy with the status at the moment. We waited for Raphael [Varane] to get everything sorted. That meant a lot to the fans, and Jadon [Sancho] will get better and better. We’ve got a few more coming back, so good times.”
Opening day always creates a special atmosphere, but with Old Trafford full of fans for the first time in over a year the buzz around the famous old stadium felt extra special today, and Solskjaer paid tribute to the returning supporters.
“It creates and sets the mood when you see the fans driving to the stadium,” he said.
“You get the butterflies again. Suddenly it’s a game that matters. We felt extra responsibility because it’s been so long without them. They mean so much to us. To have that love from the fans is so important.”