STOKE CITY endured a miserable night as they suffered a disappointing 3-0 defeat away at Manchester United on Tuesday.
Goals from Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial rounded up a poor first half before Wayne Rooney’s strike just after the break secured all three points for United at Old Trafford.
A victory for Stoke would have seen them climb a point behind their hosts in the Barclays Premier League table.
Mark Hughes named the same starting XI that was heroically knocked out of the Capital One Cup at the Semi-Final stage against Liverpool seven days ago.
That meant the Welshman made eight changes to the side that was eliminated from the Emirates FA Cup by Crystal Palace last weekend.
Peter Crouch made his Premier League start of the campaign as the lone striker while Marko Arnautovic, Jonathan Walters and Glen Johnson were all deemed fit after missing the tie at Selhurst Park.
Glenn Whelan captained the team while Jack Butland, Marc Muniesa and Ibrahim Afellay were all handed the task of achieving a result in the North West.
Meanwhile, Louis van Gaal selected the same eleven that were impressively victorious over Derby County in the Emirates FA Cup four days ago.
United were clearly still buoyed by their triumph at the iPro Stadium and kept hold of possession brightly in the opening periods before taking the lead with just a quarter of the game gone by through Lingard.
The 23-year-old capitalised from plenty of space at the back post to latch on to Cameron Borthwick-Jackson’s low cross from the left and convert unmarked.
It was the Reds’ first home goal in the opening 45 minutes in 12 games and that was almost doubled moments later when Martial fired low into the side-netting, with many blind sighted supporters believing it had crept in.
The United faithful were soon right to cheer on 22 minutes when the French forward grabbed his ninth goal of the season, finalising a counter attack by bending an effort into the top left corner from the edge of the box, leaving Butland rooted to the spot.
Stoke’s miserable start to the game soon increased when Phil Bardsley replaced Philipp Wollscheid, who looked to have sustained some type of injury.
The Potters flirted with possession in the final third in search of a way back into the game, but never mustered any glaring opportunities on David De Gea’s goal.
Juan Mata almost handed City an improbable task, heading inches wide of the upright from 12 yards, but Stoke went in at the break having to recover a two-goal deficit.
HT: MANCHESTER UNITED 2-0 STOKE CITY
There were no changes after the interval as City came out of the blocks on the front foot, maintaining possession but again struggled to create any clear cut chances on goal.
With the visitors looking for an early way back into the game, it was inevitable their would be gaps for van Gaal’s side to potentially exploit.
Johnson and Rooney chased a ball over the top and the United man seemed stronger in the shoulder barge before running toward and slotting the ball into the Potters net. For a moment it looked like the goal counted before referee Roger East eventually gave a foul on the City defender.
The England captain was not left disappointed for long and all but put the game to bed by earning a third of the night for the home side on 52 minutes, comfortably tapping in Martial’s cross at the far stick.
City remained defiant in search of a consolation, but Rooney’s goal clearly deflated Mark Hughes side as Crouch failed to connect with Bardsley’s dragged shot that fell wide before Arnautovic’s cross was deflected into he side-netting to cap off an all round disappointing night at Old Trafford.
FT: MANCHESTER UNITED 3-0 STOKE CITY