It took just three minutes for Manchester United to take their first steps toward banishing the dark clouds of the end of the Jose Mourinho era as Marcus Rashford delivered a free-kick to put his side on top.
After a sluggish start that saw the Red Devils mired on just 26 points, the club finally made the move to part ways with Mourinho after nearly two and half seasons.
Former United star Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was appointed to the interim role, with Sir Alex Ferguson’s old charge tasked with salvaging something from a campaign that appeared to drift dangerously off course.
One of those changes was Paul Pogba, who had been dropped by Mourinho for the club’s last three Premier League fixtures, and did not play at all in the last two, against Fulham and the defeat to Liverpool.
But it was Pogba who earned the first opportunity, as he won a free-kick just outside the Cardiff area minutes into the contest.
Pogba and Rashford lined up over the ball, with Pogba faking as if he was going to take it before letting the forward run up and hit it.
Rashford hit a low drive that went through the Cardiff wall and left goalkeeper Neil Etheridge rooted to the spot.
What a start to the Ole Gunnar Solskjaer era! Get in Rashford! pic.twitter.com/b20Ct2jzaI— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) December 22, 2018
The goal was Rashford’s fourth of the Premier League season and third in four games across all competitions, having scored against Fulham and Valencia in the past two weeks.
The forward has now been involved in more Premier League goals than any of his team-mates this season, scoring four times and adding five assists.
Pogba would later earn himself an assist as he found Ander Herrera in space with the Spanish midfielder then hitting a wicked strike from distance which deflected past Etheridge to double the United advantage.
Rashford, however, would have his night dampened late in the first half as the forward was flagged for a handball in his area, giving Cardiff a penalty that was converted by Víctor Camarasa to make it 2-1.
But moments later, Pogba was involved in the build-up with Jesse Lingard playing in Anthony Martial, who restored United's two-goal advantage.