A wonderful all round performance by Paul Pogba helped Manchester United win three games on the bounce, sweeping aside Bournemouth 4-1 at Old Trafford.
The midfielder’s brace put the Red Devils 2-0 up after brilliant work from Marcus Rashford for the first one, and Ander Herrera’s inch-perfect cross for the second.
Rashford then made it three before Nathan Ake pulled a goal back.
But substitute Romelu Lukaku put more gloss on the scoreline after the break which also saw Eric Bailly sent off for a rash challenge on Ryan Fraser as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s honeymoon period as caretaker boss goes on.
Bournemouth goalkeeper Asmir Begovic conceded five at Tottenham on Boxing Day and his side’s hopes of a first ever win at Old Trafford were quickly dashed thanks to Rashford’s ingenuity and skill.
The 21-year-old appeared cornered by Ake wide on the right, only to flick past the defender and make a beeline for the box. Rashford’s movement bewildered Diego Rico and his low cross was directed home by Pogba in front of the Stretford End.
It was a lovely goal during a bright start to a backdrop of songs about Solskjaer.
The visitors belatedly began to threaten as the first half reached the midway point, when a hush fell upon Old Trafford as Ake was allowed to get away a close-range header that hit Ander Herrera and then David De Gea.
It was a let-off that sprung United into life.
While Pogba was unable to get a toe on a cross from Anthony Martial, he soon met one from Herrera with gusto as he leapt high at the near post to get his head on the ball before Begovic could get there.
United academy graduate Josh King was denied at the near post as Bournemouth looked to reduce the deficit, only for Martial to soon send over a clipped cross for Rashford to turn home a third just before the break.
There was still time for another goal, though, as Bournemouth pulled one back as David Brooks crossed for Ake to head home in stoppage time.
Half-time took the sting out of proceedings somewhat, although United were still on top as Herrera tried his luck before Begovic denied Rashford.
Lukaku, back from a leave of absence, replaced the limping Rashford with 20 minutes remaining and quickly got in on the goalscoring act.
Pogba sent a lovely ball over the top and – with the linesman failing to call offside – he directed across Begovic as United continued to purr.
There was nearly a fifth in the 75th minute. Jesse Lingard showed excellent close control and composure before pulling back for Pogba to get away a fizzing strike bound for the corner until Begovic tipped the ball onto the post.
It would have been a dream end to the match for United. Instead, an out-of-control challenge from Bailly on substitute Ryan Fraser earned a straight card from referee Lee Mason.
But this was a wholly encouraging day for United – little wonder Sir Alex Ferguson was smiling at full-time.