Manchester United extend their unbeaten streak in the league thanks to goals from Fellaini, Lingard and Valencia. Mourinho’s men rode their luck in the closing stages but made the most of their chances against a wasteful Middlesbrough.
Manchester United entered the Riverside in their clash with managerless Middlesbrough needing a win to keep within touching distance of the fourth-placed Liverpool. Victor Valdes was forced into a wonderful save after just 6 minutes as Rashford broke the Boro line to for a one on one chance.
Gaston Ramirez forced a fantastic save out of David De Gea in the United goal after a good run from left back from Fabio and a neat pass from Leadbetter allowed Ramirez a look in at the United goal. Ramirez was able to create separation from Bailly and shoot hard with his right a thunderous shot met well by the United stopper. The link up of Fabio and Gaston down the left wing was a source of trouble for United in the early running.
Valdes, formerly of Manchester United, made an incredible double save to keep the scorelines level as Mata centres a ball to Rashford who put the ball on goal from meters out, bringing a reaction save with the foot of Valdez. The ball spun out to the feet of Valencia who hit the target with a first-time shot, which was somehow saved on the line again by the Spanish legend.
Marouane Fellaini broke the deadlock with a cushioned header on the half hour mark, an excellent cross from Young on the right wing was met at the backpost by the unmarked Belgian, to score his first league goal this season.
Alvaro Negredo should have had the game tied up just a minute later as a wonderful floated ball made it to the back post, but Negredo’s header trickled harmlessly across the United goal. Gaston Ramirez maintained the pressure on the United defenders creating half chances for Boro throughout the half, but the visitors stood firm throughout the remainder of the half.
Neither side made any changes at the half, and it was the hosts who made the best of the early second half running, winning a corner after more good work down the left wing. Manchester United’s pace was a massive issue for Boro all game, with Lingard and Rashford destroying the Boro backline for pace time and again, but the lack of support from the midfield limited the visitor’s effectiveness going forward.
Jesse Lingard doubled United’s advantage with a goal of season contending strike of the ball. The United front three broke at pace with Lingard driving through the middle of the field before shooting on the run from 25 yards out past the grounded Valdes into the keeper’s top left corner.
Gaston was a major danger man for Boro before he was withdrawn in the 67th minute, his last act a perfectly weighted cross into the area met by the head of Negredo, but the Spaniard’s effort trickled bounced wide. Middlesbrough, already dominating the possession stats, took over the game after Mourinho brought off Mata to be replaced by Rojo, forcing the visitors to sit deeper and invite pressure from their hosts.
Rudy Gestede scored Middlesbrough’s 20th goal of the season as United were unable to clear their lines the ball fell to Gestede who fired a first-time shot through the legs of De Gea. Chris Smalling had a poor day for United, as he was easily beaten by Alvaro Negredo in the closing moments, only for Phil Jones to execute a perfect sliding challenge to snuff out the danger.
There was late drama as Rudy Gestede appeared to grab Bailly around the neck which caused a shoving match between the two sides, as Middlesbrough were looking to turn the screw and look for an equaliser.
There was one more shocking moment in the closing minutes are Antonia Valencia finished off Middlesbrough as his tenacious running forced a howler from Victor Valdes. A back pass chased down by Valencia forced a backtracking Valdes to slip over, Valencia was on hand to collect the ball and walk it into the empty net.