Manchester United beats Stoke 3-0, reduces City's lead to 12 points

AP , Tuesday 16 Jan 2018

Manchester United
Manchester United's Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku (C) celebrates scoring their third goal during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Stoke City at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on January 15, 2018. (AFP)

Manchester United took a chunk out of Manchester City's large lead in the English Premier League by beating relegation-threatened Stoke 3-0 in a one-sided match featuring spectacular goals by Antonio Valencia and Anthony Martial on Monday.

United capitalized on City's first loss in the league — at Liverpool on Sunday — to reduce the gap to 12 points with 15 games remaining.

Valencia, back from nearly a month out with a hamstring injury, blasted a shot into the top corner with his weaker left foot to give United the lead in the ninth minute, and Martial curled in a first-time effort from the edge of the area for 2-0 in the 38th.

Romelu Lukaku added a third goal in the 72nd from a shot on the turn.

Second-place United moved three points clear of Chelsea and Liverpool in the race for qualification for the Champions League.

Paul Lambert was hired as Stoke manager hours before kickoff, as a replacement for Mark Hughes, and was in the stands at Old Trafford. He saw the size of the task awaiting him as he looks to steer the club away from relegation trouble, with Stoke easily seen off by United in occasional hailstorms in northwest England.

United goalkeeper David De Gea was needed to pull off a couple of good saves from Xherdan Shaqiri and Mame Biram Diouf.

Stoke, which has been in the top flight since 2008, is in third-to-last place after 23 games.

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