Solskjaer effect sees Man Utd hit 13-month high with three-goal first-half showing

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A change in the dugout did the Red Devils a world of good during a trip to Cardiff, with a flying start seeing them take control of the contest

Manchester United have hit a 13-month high under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, with the new man at the helm making an immediate impact during a trip to Cardiff.

With the Red Devils having taken the decision to part with Jose Mourinho, cover was required in a high-profile post.

Treble winner Solskjaer was the man chosen to take the reins, with the Norwegian agreeing an initial interim deal through to the end of the season.

His return to Old Trafford was welcomed by many, with a clean slate offered to an underperforming squad.

In a quirk of fate, his first game in charge of United took him back to the familiar surroundings of Cardiff – the scene of his only previous coaching post in British football.

Solskjaer would have been hoping to make a bright start, but the speed at which his new side burst out of the blocks probably came as a surprise even to him.

Marcus Rashford recorded the first goal of a new era inside three minutes, before Ander Herrera doubled United’s lead before the half-hour mark.

Victor Camarasa pulled one back for the Bluebirds from the penalty spot, but Anthony Martial restored the Red Devils’ two-goal advantage four minutes before half-time.

Fast starts are not something that United had been accustomed to under Mourinho, with over a year having passed since they last registered three efforts in the opening 45 minutes of any given Premier League fixture.

While Solskjaer was able to oversee a dream start to his reign, he is under no illusion as to the size of the challenge facing him in familiar surroundings.

United’s struggles under Mourinho have left them playing catch-up in the race for top-four finishes.

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Victory over Cardiff will, however, be a positive step in the right direction.

With the games coming tick and fast over the festive period, there will be further opportunities to close on the Champions League places before the end of the year.

If the Red Devils can continue to burst out of the blocks like they did against the Bluebirds, then they may soon have top-flight rivals looking anxiously over their shoulder.

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