It was a wholly satisfying trip to Birkenhead for Manchester United as they demolished a poor Tranmere Rovers side. Six goals, five of them in the first half, sent the Reds into the FA Cup Fifth Round.
The win came at a time of serious pressure on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his players delivered to offer some rest bite to that focus.
Three players stood out in particular even though it was a dominant performance from all involved for United.
Harry Maguire dictates tempo of game from the back
The recently-appointed Manchester United captain put in a fine performance before being substituted in the second half. Maguire spent much of the game stepping out of defence and dictating the tempo of the match. He gave United the lead with a fantastic drive from outside the box and from then, controlled things for the Reds.
It’s not a performance that too much can be taken out of. This was, though, a reminder of Maguire’s quality. A goal and a good performance will be a confidence boost to Maguire, who has begun to come under the spotlight in recent weeks.
The £80m man has to show that he can contribute displays like this at a higher level. If United had such a presence in Premier League games this season, perhaps their play would be less stodgy, slow and disappointing.
Diogo Dalot offers attacking quality from defence
Long-term injuries and Aaron Wan-Bissaka have prevented Diogo Dalot from playing regularly this season. His passionate celebration after he scored the second goal for United was a sign of how hard he’s worked to get fit again.
He offers United something that Wan-Bissaka does not: consistent quality in attack. Dalot is not at the level of England’s best such as Alexander-Arnold, but he certainly gives United something different.
Whether he can do the same against higher-level opponents is yet to be seen. He has done on a couple of occasions in the past. Dalot offers a good option in the wide areas.
That will be truer than ever if United are going to play with a five-man defence in the future.
His goal was a good move and he took the opportunity fantastically with an emphatic finish. Throughout the game, he continued to storm forward and speed the game up for Solskjaer’s side.
Mason Greenwood scores his 10th goal
The 18-year-old has become the youngest player to score 10 goals for United since Norman Whiteside did so in 1984.
Sunday’s strike was a penalty that had little impact on a game that was already won.
Greenwood had surprisingly few chances given the level of United’s dominance but he contributed to the general play well.
In a central role after Martial was taken off, Greenwood combined well with United’s midfielders and Jesse Lingard in attacking midfield.
He’ll be needed plenty in the coming months because of Marcus Rashford’s injury and this was a good all-round performance for him. A penalty goal was satisfying, too.
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