LONDON (REUTERS) - Manchester United provisionally went top of the Premier League after Marouane Fellaini scored two goals either side of Juan Mata’s opener and Romelu Lukaku’s record-equalling strike in a 4-0 rout of Crystal Palace on Saturday (Sept 30).
The result extended Palace’s Premier League record to seven successive opening defeats without scoring in former England manager Roy Hodgson’s second game in charge.
United have 19 points from seven games, three more than second-placed Manchester City who were playing champions Chelsea later. Palace remained rooted to the foot of the table.
With the international break looming, United enjoyed a morale-boosting win ahead of the clash with arch-rivals Liverpool on Oct 14.
“We controlled the game and created chances so it was a great afternoon,” Fellaini told the BBC. “In two weeks we have a big game against Liverpool and we have to be ready. The confidence is there. I have confidence as the manager trusts me, I always give everything for the team.”
Commenting on compatriot Romelu Lukaku, who netted in the 86th minute for his seventh goal in his first seven Premier League games for the club to equal Andy Cole’s record, Fellaini said: “He is a goalscorer, we know that. That’s why he is here.”
Mata gave United a third-minute lead after he was set up by Marcus Rashford, who stormed past Joel Ward and cut the ball back for the Spaniard to thread home from 12 metres.
Without hitting top gear, United doubled their advantage in the 35th after the industrious Ashley Young delivered a perfect cross from the left for Fellaini to sweep home at the far post.
Enjoying his best spell at United since he joined the club in 2013, Fellaini made it 3-0 shortly after the break with a close-range header after Rashford swung in a sharp free kick.
Lukaku grabbed his 11th goal in 10 games for United after substitute Anthony Martial’s low cross left the in-form striker with a simple tap in.
United manager Jose Mourinho was delighted. “Three points and a good performance,” he said. “The momentum is good and the players are happy and confident.”