Manchester United edge out Middlesbrough to go fifth

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Manchester United moved up to fifth in the Premier League table, and cut the gap on the top four, with a 3-1 win against struggling Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium.

United — who were without the injured Paul Pogba and Wayne Rooney and the suspended Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Ander Herrera — named a three-man central defence and started with Juan Mata, Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard in attack.

Former United goalkeeper Victor Valdes was on hand to deny Rashford twice and Lingard once in the opening half hour, but he was caught out as Marouane Fellaini’s back-post header, from an Ashley Young cross, put the visitors in front on 30 minutes.

Although Boro saw plenty of the ball they didn’t threaten United and looked low on confidence.

Lingard looked to have made sure of the points just after the hour mark, running unopposed through the Middlesbrough half before unleashing a swerving shot into the top corner.

But Middlesbrough were invited back into the game by United’s defensive tactics and substitute Rudy Gestede gave the hosts a lifeline with his 77th-minute close-range finish before Antonio Valencia added a third in stoppage time following an unfortunate slip by Valdes.

United are now just three points behind fourth-placed Liverpool with a game in hand. Boro, meanwhile, remain 19th and are five points from safety with 10 games remaining.