Manchester United once again came from behind to move back to the top of the Premier League as Paul Pogba netted a superb winner against Fulham.
Manchester United started the game down in third following Leicester and Man City’s midweek victories, though the Red Devils started sloppily on a blustery night at Craven Cottage, and they found themselves behind after just five minutes.
It was a simple ball over the top to Ademola Lookman, with the United defence looking pretty static and failing to track the run, the 23-year-old being played onside by Aaron Wan-Bissaka before slotting home past De Gea with a low composed finish.
The visitors did eventually start to get a foothold in the game, and moments after Bruno Fernandes had hit the post from range, the Portugal international fired a pacey delivery in from the left, Alphonse Areola spilt the cross into the path of Edinson Cavani, the predatory striker tucking home the rebound.
While Fulham showed some moments of adventure early in the second period, United were largely camped on the edge of the Cottagers box as they attempted to break down the well-drilled west London outfit.
However, with 20 minutes of the second period gone, Paul Pogba took matters into his own hands, and unleashed a wonderful effort beyond Areola with his supposedly weaker left foot from the left hand side of the area.
📊 Man Utd have equalled their club record of 17 away League matches without defeat (also Dec 1998 – Sept 1999)
There have been only 5 longer unbeaten away runs in the PL era pic.twitter.com/eRY46Ez5RP
— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) January 20, 2021
Moments later, Areola produced a fine reaction save to deny a close-range header from the impressive Edinson Cavani to keep his side in it.
Fulham launched a late siege and almost bagged themself an equaliser, Aleksandar Mitrovic’s stoppage-time header taking a wicked deflection off the thigh of Eric Bailly and dropping agonisingly wide.
Speaking afterwards, United boss Solskjaer was pleased with his sides display despite their slow start.
“I think we started slow but after their goal I felt we played well,” he told BT Sport. “We needed to wake up and after that we played really well.
“We don’t do offsides really, we should follow the run. We had not woken up but good reaction.
“Fantastic goal by Paul and we had some other chances to finish the game but of course when it is just one goal and the players they put on it is going to be like heart in your mouth.”
There has been plenty of talk about Paul Pogba’s future at the club and the best way in which to utilise the club-record signing, though the Norwegian said he has been pleased with his performances of late – the France international having also scored the winner in the 1-0 win over Burnley last week.
94 – Manchester United have won 94 Premier League matches after conceding the first goal, the most of any side in the competition's history. Specialists. pic.twitter.com/SaddRIwat2
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 20, 2021
“He [Paul Pogba] has really come on,” he said. “He is fit, he can play in midfield and he can play wide. That is key with Paul, getting him match fit and running fit and he is at the moment. He played very well.”
The result leaves United top of the league at the halfway stage of the campaign, and 12 points better off than at this stage last season, though Solskjaer was keen to not get carried away by title talk.
“It is always going to be talked about that when you are halfway through and top of the league but we are not thinking about this, we just have to go one game at a time. It is such an unpredictable season.”
Next up for United is an FA Cup fourth-round tie against Liverpool, before facing Premier League strugglers, Sheffield United in midweek.