Manchester United powered into fourth place, albeit temporarily, in the Premier League with a 5-2 rout of struggling Bournemouth, while Leicester got back on track with Jamie Vardy reaching 100 top-flight goals in a comfortable win against Crystal Palace on Saturday.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side boosted their bid to qualify for next season’s Champions League thanks to a swaggering display at Old Trafford.
Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Bruno Fernandes and Mason Greenwood, who netted twice, were all on the scoresheet to lift United one point above fifth-placed Chelsea.
Third-placed Leicester remain three points above United in the race reach Europe’s elite club competition thanks to their first win in five games since English football’s return. United have now scored 11 times in winning their last three Premier League games and netted five in a league match at Old Trafford for the first time since 2011.
“Confidence is sky high. You get energy and confidence by performances and results and we are getting that at the minute,” said Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who is feeling the benefits of a 16-match unbeaten run.
“I have enjoyed the last few games to be honest and it is healthy, you don’t age as quickly!”
Bournemouth are sinking fast in the other direction as they remain second bottom and the Cherries’ defensive problems were quickly exposed after taking a shock 16th-minute lead through Junior Stanislas. Greenwood has forced his way into forming a fearsome front three with Rashford and Martial and smashed home from Fernandes’s pass to get the comeback started.
“Mason is one of the best if not the best finisher I have worked with and seen,” added Solskjaer. “He is so calm. He knows where to finish if it is on the training ground, here or in his garden at home.”
Six minutes later United had turned the game around when Adam Smith was penalised for handball in the area and Rashford converted the spot-kick for his 20th goal of the season.
Martial also then scored his 20th of the campaign in stunning fashion by curling an effort high past goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale from the edge of the area.
Eric Bailly gave Bournemouth brief hope when he conceded a penalty just four minutes after coming on as a half-time substitute.
The United defender’s handball was ruled by VAR to be just inside the area and Josh King scored the spot-kick.
But there was no stopping Solskjaer’s men going forward and Greenwood restored their two-goal cushion five minutes later with another powerful drive, this time on his weaker right foot. Fernandes capped another influential display when the Portuguese international bent a powerful free-kick beyond Ramsdale in the 59th minute.
Leicester’s clash with Crystal Palace went ahead at the King Power despite a local lockdown in the Midlands city due to coronavirus. The Foxes have been goal-shy in their previous four games since the restart, but were helped back to winning ways by some calamitous Palace defending in a 3-0 victory.
Kelechi Iheanacho poked home after goalkeeper Vicente Guaita failed to collect Youri Tielemans’s cross.
Vardy was then gifted his 100th Premier League goal 13 minutes from time when he tapped in after Mamadou Sakho was dispossessed by Harvey Barnes.
Barnes was the provider again as Vardy struck in characteristic fashion in stoppage time by sprinting in behind before dinking the ball over the advancing Guaita.
“To get the two goals and the three points is all you can ask for,” said Vardy. “We know it’s down to us. We are in this position on merit and we have to keep going. If we play like that between now and the end of the season, we will pick up a quite a few points.”
Norwich manager Daniel Farke conceded his side are heading for relegation after Leandro Trossard fired Brighton to a 1-0 win at Carrow Road. Trossard netted in the first half to move Brighton nine points clear of the relegation zone.
The picture is much bleaker for Norwich. The Canaries are seven points from safety with five games remaining after losing all five games following the coronavirus hiatus.
“It was more or less our last chance to get back in the mix and we are disappointed,” he said.
“After a few losses, we don’t have the right to make any fighting messages or to make any unrealistic claims.”