Amid speculation swirling regarding Wayne Rooney's place in Manchester United's star-studded lineup, Jose Mourinho benched his captain for Saturday's big Premier League clash against reigning champion Leicester City, and it wound up working out in a big way.
United ambushed Leicester with four goals in the first half–three off of corner kicks–and rolled to a 4-1 victory at Old Trafford.
Rooney's form has been a point of contention during United's recent slump, which saw the club follow three straight league wins with a pair of losses (and a Europa League loss) prior to a midweek League Cup win over League One's Northampton Town.
Marcus Rashford, Juan Mata and Jesse Lingard provided the support for lone striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and the former two scored during a five-minute blitz during which United scored three times. The last of the goals came from Paul Pogba, who scored his first goal with Manchester United since his record transfer from Juventus this summer.
The scoring started in the 22nd minute, as Chris Smalling, wearing the captain's armband in place of Rooney, scored on a header off Daley Blind's corner kick to give the Red Devils a 1-0 lead.
Mata doubled the lead 15 minutes later, capping a beautiful combination that he started with Pogba and Lingard with a thunderous finish from inside the box, beating goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler.
Moments later it became 3-0, with Rashford getting on the board. Blind quickly took a corner, which was helped across goal by Mata. Rashford was there on the doorstep for the tap-in for his third league goal of the season.
The rout continued just a couple of minutes later, as Pogba got into the act with his first goal since his record signing from Juventus. It came off another corner, as Pogba powered a header by Zieler to make it 4-0.
Leicester pulled one back in the second half through Demarai Gray, who scored on a sensational blast from long range after cutting back on a pair of United defenders in the 59th minute and letting fly with his right foot.
It was way too little, too late for Leicester, though, which fell for a third time this season–matching its loss total from all of last season.
Rooney eventually came on for United in the 83rd minute as a substitute for Rashford, with the club ahead 4-1 and the result well in hand.