Manchester United finally move out of sixth as Valdes howler helps them beat Boro
Premier League, The Riverside - Middlesbrough 1 (Gestede 77) Manchester United 2 (Fellaini 30, Lingard 62, Valencia 90+3)
Manchester United returned to winning ways in the Premier League with a 3-1 win over struggling Middlesbrough.
Having parted company with Aitor Karanka on Thursday, hopes were high at the Riverside that Boro could turn the corner against a fatigued United side who were playing their third game in just seven days. However those aspirations were dented when Marouane Fellaini scored his first Premier League goal in 30 appearances on the half-hour mark to give the visitors a deserved lead.
Jose Mourinho made seven changes to the side that overcame FC Rostov in the Europa League on Thursday night and his second string failed to disappoint as they raced into a two-goal lead in spectacular fashion mid-way through the second-half when Jesse Lingard lashed a shot into the top corner from 20 yards.
However, Boro threw a spanner in the works when Rudy Gestede grabbed his first goal for the club with just over 10 minutes to play to set up an enthralling finish.
In response, the visitors dropped incredibly deep and were even playing with six defenders at one stage, but despite some nervy moments the Red Devils hung on and even added a third through Antonio Valencia in stoppage time thanks to a comical error from former United goalkeeper Victor Valdes.
The win means United move to fifth place in the league and only three points behind fourth-placed Liverpool, who they have played a game fewer than. Meanwhile, Middlesbrough remain in grave danger in 19th and five points from safety.
A difficult test but United pass, if only just: It’s always challenging to come up against a side with a new manager, particularly when you have played 15 more games than your opponent, but Manchester United handled the task well and fully deserved the three points, even if it wasn’t entirely convincing at times. Fourth place is now in sight for the Red Devils.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Jesse Lingard (Manchester United): The youngster caused Boro endless problems with his explosive pace on the break and he capped a wonderful performance with a terrific goal.
Manchester United's Jesse Lingard celebrates scoring their second goal with Ashley YoungReuters
12’ - SAVE! Ramirez cuts inside, jinks past Bailly and curls a shot destined for the top corner but De Gea does well to get a strong hand to the ball and palms it away for a corner.
22’ - CHANCES! A fantastic double save from Valdes denies United! First Mata picks out Rashford with a pass across the face of goal but Valdes does brilliantly to save with his feet. The rebound falls to Valencia whose shot from a tight angle is palmed away to safety by the former United no 1.
30’ - GOAL! United are ahead, Fellaini spins away at the back post and heads in from Young's cross! Dreadful defending from Boro.
41’ - SAVE! Rashford is causing the hosts all kinds of problems but his finishing is letting him down. He once again gets away from Bernardo easily but his shot from a tight angle is parried by Valdes.
62’ - GOAL! A perfect strike from Lingard doubles United's advantage! The visitors launch a counter-attack, the Boro defenders back off the youngster and he punishes them with a stunning strike from 25 yards which hits the top corner of the net.
77’ - GOAL! Gestede gives Boro a lifeline! Smalling fails to clear his line from Traore's cross and the former Aston Villa striker gets off the mark for his new club with a simple tap-in. Game on!
90’+3 GOAL! Oh my, Victor Valdes. It's a horrendous mistake from the Middlesbrough goalkeeper as he slips at the crucial moment and Valencia, who chased the ball all the way, is left with a simple tap-in.
- Marouane Fellaini's strike ended his run of 30 Premier League appearances without a goal.
- Fellaini's goal versus Middlesbrough means that he's now scored against 20 different teams in the Premier League.
- Manchester United have become the first team to win 600 Premier League matches (P 951 W 600 D 204 L 147).
- Rudy Gestede's goal was the first that Middlesbrough have scored in the Premier League in 509 minutes of action.