EPL wrap: Manchester United thrash Leicester

Manchester United's Juan Mata, 2nd left, celebrates with team mates after scoring during the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester United and Leicester City. Photo / AP
Manchester United's Juan Mata, 2nd left, celebrates with team mates after scoring during the English Premier League soccer match between Manchester United and Leicester City. Photo / AP

Dropping Wayne Rooney had the desired effect for Manchester United.

With its out-of-form captain on the bench, United scored four goals in a sparkling first-half display and overwhelmed champion Leicester 4-1 in the English Premier League overnight.

Juan Mata - Rooney's replacement in the No. 10 role - Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba scored in a rampant five-minute spell just before halftime after United had taken the lead through Chris Smalling, the team's captain in place of the demoted Rooney.

United ended a run of two straight league losses - against Manchester City and Watford - that had ruined its winning start to the campaign and led to widespread criticism of the makeup of Jose Mourinho's team as well as the coach's management style.

Rooney bore the brunt of the criticism following his laboured displays and Mourinho decided to put his 30-year-old captain on the bench in the biggest call of his United reign to date.

"Sometimes when I read you (in the media), I feel I know nothing about football," Mourinho said. "But there is one thing I know - the rules of the game. And I can only start with 11 (players)."

Mourinho said it was a tactical decision to drop Rooney, a day after saying the striker had struggled under the weight of media criticism since a poor display for England against Slovakia on Sept. 4.

Leicester's defending clearly contributed to the scoreline - three of United's four goals came from left-wing corners - but United's attacking brio without Rooney's often slow build-up play was a notch above anything the team has produced this season.

"Today we had intensity, movement and dynamism," Mourinho said. "To be back home and beat the champions is good."

Pogba and Mata ran the midfield in front of the anchorman Ander Herrera, Zlatan Ibrahimovic floated around prompting play in his inimitable way, while Rashford was his usual busy, direct self and scored for the third straight game.

Rooney, meanwhile, could only applaud from the bench as the goals flew in.

Leicester was so overwhelmed in the first half that its two chief attacking weapons, Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez, were substituted at halftime with manager Claudio Ranieri in damage-limitation mode and later acknowledging he was thinking ahead to the Champions League next week.

Ranieri blamed his team's first-half display on a failure to play as a team after going behind, and a lack of concentration at corners.

"We switched off," Ranieri said.

A bright start by Leicester was stopped in its tracks by Smalling's back-post header from Daley Blind's corner in the 22nd minute. For the rest of the half, it was United at its relentless best.

With the new captain getting the first goal, Rooney's replacement in the No. 10 position got the second. Pogba clipped a short pass to Jesse Lingard, whose flick found Mata just inside the area and he fired home in the 37th.

Mata set up the third, receiving a quickly-taken corner by Blind next to the byline and crossing low for Rashford to tap in. Pogba made it 4-0 by heading in Blind's outswinging corner for his first goal for United since returning as the world's most expensive player.

It was Pogba's best display for United.

"We want to carry on like this," Pogba said. "I always say one thing - it's at the end (of the season) when we will see."

United's level dropped after the break and Leicester's reorganized forward line created more openings, one of which saw substitute Demarai Gray smash a diagonal 25-meter shot into the top corner.

Rooney came on in the 83rd minute to applause, taking his place on the left wing, but the game was over by then.

Manchester City 3 Swansea 1

Sergio Aguero scored twice on his return from suspension as Manchester City beat Swansea 3-1 to clinch a sixth straight win to open the English Premier League.

Raheem Sterling grabbed the other goal for City, whose only negative was the sight of playmaker Kevin De Bruyne limping off late on with an apparent hamstring injury.

City has won its first 10 games of the season under new coach Pep Guardiola - a club record - and has a four-point lead after six rounds in the Premier League. Guardiola tied Carlo Ancelotti's Chelsea record for six consecutive victories at the start of a league.

Liverpool 5 Hull 1

Free-scoring Liverpool won a third straight English Premier League game by thrashing 10-man Hull 5-1, with James Milner converting two penalties and its effervescent midfield contributing the other goals.

With nine goals in its first two home games, a new-look Anfield is resembling a fortress again for Liverpool under Juergen Klopp.

Liverpool's problem in recent seasons has been putting away the so-called weaker teams, particularly at home, but Hull had no answer to the hosts' waves of attacks, especially after Ahmed Elmohamady was sent off in the 29th minute.

Adam Lallana scored Liverpool's opener in the 17th after being set up by fellow midfielder Philippe Coutinho, whose goal-bound shot in the 29th was stopped by the elbow of Elmohamady - meaning a straight red for the right back. Milner made no mistake from the spot.

Winger Sadio Mane, who had already hit the crossbar, made it 3-0 in the 36th after Lallana spun to earn enough space in the penalty area to slide a pass into his teammate. Mane scored with a shot on the turn.

Hull was playing without a recognized striker in an attempt to stem the tide but still managed to equalize, David Meyler ramming home from a corner just after the break.

Coutinho restored Liverpool's three-goal lead with a dipping 20-meter shot less than 60 seconds later, and Milner scored his second from the spot after Daniel Sturridge was fouled by Andrew Robertson.

Liverpool has 24 goals in eight matches in all competitions this season.

"It was a world-class performance in counter pressing," Klopp said. "We didn't give Hull the opportunity to create confidence. It was wonderful to watch. All in all, really good."

Tottenham 2 Middlesbrough 1
Son Heung-min stepped up in Harry Kane's injury absence with two goals to give Tottenham a 2-1 victory at Middlesbrough in the English Premier League.

Kane, last season's top scorer in the league, injured his right ankle last weekend and faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

But Son, who wanted to leave Tottenham in the offseason, has scored his second double inside two weeks - netting both inside 23 minutes at Middlesbrough.

It was a third consecutive loss for Middlesbrough, but a third Premier League win in a row for Tottenham.

Bournemouth 1 Everton 0

Everton's unbeaten start to the English Premier League ended as Bournemouth scored early and held on for a priceless second league victory.

Junior Stanislas scored the only goal from a 20-yard drive in the 23rd minute.

Everton came south with four wins and a draw in the league, but maybe still smarting from a League Cup loss, the first of the season, to Norwich midweek.

But Bournemouth also lost in the League Cup, and were booed off at home. This time, only cheers swept around Dean Court, as Bournemouth dominated the first half. The Cherries stymied Everton in the second half, with the visitors unable to gain any rhythm.

Crystal Palace 3 Sunderland 2
Sunderland wasted a 2-0 lead and dropped to the bottom of the English Premier League as Crystal Palace won 3-2 for its third straight victory in the top tier.

Christian Benteke's injury-time header left the Black Cats still waiting for their first league win of the season.

Jermain Defoe's double strike in the 39th and 60th minutes at the Stadium of Light put Sunderland manager David Moyes in sight of a much-needed victory.

But Patrick van Aanholt deflected Joe Ledley's 61st-minute shot past goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, and was then beaten to the ball by James McArthur who made it 2-2 in the 76th.

Deep into injury time, Benteke rose to power a header past Pickford from substitute Lee Chung-yong's free kick.

Palace was two points behind Manchester United. Sunderland was last with only one point.

Other results:
Stoke 1 West Brom 1
Later today: Arsenal v Chelsea

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