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Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial Dominate in Manchester United's Win vs. Fulham

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistFebruary 9, 2019

Manchester United's French midfielder Paul Pogba celebrates after scoring the opening goal of the English Premier League football match between Fulham and Manchester United at Craven Cottage in London on February 9, 2019. (Photo by Ian KINGTON / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. /         (Photo credit should read IAN KINGTON/AFP/Getty Images)
IAN KINGTON/Getty Images

Manchester United defeated Fulham 3-0 in the Premier League on Saturday at Craven Cottage behind an impressive showing from Paul Pogba.

With the victory, the Red Devils temporarily moved ahead of Chelsea and into fourth place in the standings with 51 points, although Chelsea will have a chance to draw level or surpass them when they face Manchester City on Sunday.

United trail third-place Tottenham Hotspur by six points and are 11 points behind both Manchester City and Liverpool.

Manchester United jumped out to an early lead with a sensational goal by Pogba in the 14th minute, while Anthony Martial followed it up with an even better effort in the 23rd.

Pogba struck again in the 65th minute with a confident penalty to finish off the Cottagers.

The loss kept Fulham in 19th place in the table with just 17 points. Although they lead last-place Huddersfield Town by six points, they are five behind 18th-place Cardiff City and seven back of Burnley in 17th place.

Pogba continued his recent hot streak in the early stages of Saturday's match by taking a pass from Martial and scoring from a nearly impossible angle with his left foot (U.S. only):

NBC Sports Soccer @NBCSportsSoccer

PogBOOM! https://t.co/irYlElZFub

Despite finding himself out wide on the left wing, the 25-year-old managed to squeeze a shot past Fulham goalkeeper Sergio Rico into the top-left corner of the goal.

Football writer Liam Canning was among those who marveled at Pogba's form:

Liam Canning @LiamPaulCanning

Paul Pogba just doesn’t stop scoring. Machine.

The Frenchman's strong run of play has coincided with the sacking of Jose Mourinho as manager and the appointment of former Manchester United forward Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Martial also seems to be thriving under the Norwegian, as he turned in an awesome individual effort to beat Sergio Rico for United's second goal (U.S. only):

NBC Sports Soccer @NBCSportsSoccer

Anthony Martial all on his own! What a goal! https://t.co/tLZKK998j0

The goal marked a milestone for Martial, who has either scored or assisted 50 Premier League goals during his four-year career with the Red Devils, per Squawka Football:

Squawka Football @Squawka

Anthony Martial has now been directly involved in 50 Premier League goals: ⚽️ 33 goals 🅰️ 17 assists Untouchable in full flow. https://t.co/65OUM9o2pA

While the 23-year-old is an elite talent, he struggled to find form at times during the Mourinho era.

The relationship between Martial and Mourinho was so fractured that Mourinho wanted to part ways with the promising forward, according to James Ducker of The Telegraph:

James Ducker @TelegraphDucker

Just a reminder -Jose Mourinho wanted to sell Anthony Martial

Manchester United resisted any temptation to sell Martial, and that decision has paid major dividends for Solskjaer.

Fulham rarely threatened United, and Pogba managed to put the game away in the 65th minute with a successful penalty after Juan Mata was fouled in the box.

Pogba set a new career high in league goals with 11 by virtue of his two strikes on Saturday, and he also established himself as the Premier League's top scorer during Solskjaer's tenure:

Squawka Football @Squawka

Paul Pogba has scored more Premier League goals (8) than any other player since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took charge of the club. A few penalties along the way. https://t.co/SqJRzvyvwg

With Pogba and Martial providing the bulk of the scoring for United and the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Alexis Sanchez and Mata playing supporting roles, the Red Devils now have the look of one of the most dangerous clubs in the league.

It's likely too late for them to make a run to the top of the table and challenge the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool, but they are in good position to clinch a spot in next season's UEFA Champions League if they continue to play like they did Saturday.

                    

What's Next?

Manchester United have a busy upcoming schedule, with the first leg of their Champions League round-of-16 tie against Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday, an FA Cup fifth-round match against Chelsea on February 18 and a Premier League clash with Liverpool on February 24.

Meanwhile, Fulham will have an opportunity to rest until February 22, when they face West Ham United in their next Premier League match.

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