Football: United deal with Stoke at Old Trafford amid Sanchez talk

Romelu Lukaku (centre) embraces  Anthony Martial (left) as he celebrates scoring United's third goal.
Romelu Lukaku (centre) embraces Anthony Martial (left) as he celebrates scoring United's third goal.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (REUTERS) - The thoughts of Manchester United's fans may have been on the possible arrival of Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal but the players stayed focused to beat Stoke City 3-0 in the Premier League at a rainy Old Trafford on Monday (Jan 15).

Full-back Antonio Valencia blasted United into a ninth minute lead after cutting inside on to his unfavoured - but still potent - left foot before Anthony Martial and Romelu Lukaku wrapped up the victory for Jose Mourinho's side.

The result leaves second placed United 12 points behind leaders Manchester City who suffered their first league defeat this season in a thrilling 4-3 reverse at Liverpool on Sunday.

Stoke's new manager Paul Lambert, appointed earlier on Monday to replace the recently sacked Mark Hughes, watched from the stands as Valencia put United ahead.

Stoke's Stephen Ireland, making his first start since May 2016, then missed two good chances as the visitors showed plenty of attacking intent.

But seven minutes before the interval, United's French winger Martial made it 2-0 with a sweet first-time finish after being set up by Paul Pogba.

Lukaku rounded off the win with a 72nd minute goal, wriggling to find enough space for a shot into the bottom corner after good work from Martial.

Mourinho omitted winger Henrikh Mkhitaryan from the squad amid reports that Arsenal were interested in taking him to The Emirates as part of a swap deal for their Chile forward Sanchez.