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Man Utd smash Leicester 4-1 in EPL

Associated Press Associated Press 23/09/2016

Dropping Wayne Rooney has had the desired effect for Manchester United, who have overwhelmed champions Leicester 4-1 in the English Premier League.

Juan Mata, Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba scored in a rampant five-minute spell just before halftime at Old Trafford on Saturday 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 their winning start to the campaign and led to widespread criticism of the make-up of Jose Mourinho's team.

Rooney bore the brunt of the criticism following his laboured displays in the No.10 playmaker role, and Mourinho decided to put his 30-year-old captain on the bench in the biggest call of his United reign to date.

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

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

Leicester were so overwhelmed in the first half their chief attacking weapons, Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez, were substituted at halftime, with manager Claudio Ranieri in damage-limitation mode.

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

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

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