MANCHESTER (England): Manchester United kept alive their hopes of finishing in the Premier League’s top four, with two goals from Marcus Rashford and one each from Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood giving them a 4-0 home win over Norwich City on Saturday.
The result left United fifth in the standings on 34 points from 22 games, five behind fourth-placed Chelsea, while Norwich stayed rooted to the bottom with 14 points.
It also took some pressure off manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer following Tuesday’s 3-1 home defeat by Manchester City in the first leg of their League Cup semi-final, and ahead of their visit next Sunday to runaway Premier League leaders Liverpool.
Solskjaer was pleased with the performance and singled out Rashford after the striker took his season’s tally to 19 goals in all competitions in his 200th game for United.
“Very happy,” the Norwegian told BBC Sport. “I am sure the opposition are talking about Man United as a very hard working team. That is what I want from my team.
“We reacted today. We can bounce back, and we are taking more than two or three steps forward before one back, because behind the scenes we know we are doing good work.”
“Fantastic effort by Marcus getting to 200 games so quickly. He got through most of the game. He is struggling a little bit so we took him off. He kept his cool.”
Midfielder Juan Mata enjoyed a rare league start for United and made the most of it as he contributed with two assists, the first when Rashford met the Spaniard’s inswinging cross at the far post and side-footed it home in the 27th minute.
Rashford made it 2-0 with a 52nd-minute penalty as he drove his spot-kick low past goalkeeper Tim Krul, who had needlessly hauled down United’s left back Brandon Williams with a mistimed tackle.
The lively Mata was at it again two minutes later when he delivered an inch-perfect cross from the right for Martial to head home emphatically into the bottom corner from close range.
United continued to press, and Williams missed a gilt-edged chance in the 57th minute, blazing his shot high into the stands at the Stretford End after a flowing move down the right flank.
The home side got their reward, however, as second-half substitute Greenwood put the icing on the cake with a crisp low shot from 18 metres shortly after he came on for playmaker Andreas Pereira.
Mata acknowledged United needed to be more consistent if they are to earn a Champions League berth.
“It was a very good response to our last defeat, and today is a good example of how I believe we should play on a more consistent basis,” he said.
“There are more teams that will fight to get that (Champions League) position. Chelsea is going to earn points so we must focus on our results.”