Manchester United closed the gap between themselves and Premier League leaders Manchester City to 12 points with a 3-0 win over struggling Stoke City at Old Trafford.
Manchester City were beaten in the top flight for the first time this season on Sunday, 4-3 at Liverpool, and United's victory, along with reports they are set to sign Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez at the expense of their neighbours, means there is a fleeting instance this term of the bragging rights residing on the red side of town.
Stoke, with newly appointed manager Paul Lambert watching from the stands, acquitted themselves well and carved out some clear first-half chances, only for Antonio Valencia and Anthony Martial to breach the Premier League's most porous defence with fabulous first-half finishes, while Paul Pogba was influential in the hosts' midfield.
Martial and Juan Mata passed up chances to compound the Potters' misery after the break, meaning Romelu Lukaku's 72nd-minute third goal felt wholly inevitable, as thoughts began to turn towards the Belgian's prospective new strike partner.
Lambert must now rouse a side in the relegation zone who have suffered eight defeats in 11 league games, with 50 in their goals-against column this season.
Stoke's caretaker boss Eddie Niedzwiecki handed a debut to right-back Moritz Bauer and the £5.5million signing from Rubin Kazan was a touch fortunate not to be punished for hauling Martial down inside the area after six minutes.
It was Bauer's opposite number Valencia who raided forward from full-back to cut inside Josh Tymon and arrow an excellent left-footed shot into the top corner shortly afterwards.
Xherdan Shaqiri called United goalkeeper David de Gea into action as he looked to add to his catalogue of spectacular volleyed goals, while Stephen Ireland – making his first Premier League start since April 2015 – should have done better when he hooked a shot wide from inside the United box in the 17th minute.
There was a more glaring miss from the former Manchester City midfielder when he lost his footing and shovelled an attempt past the post from Shaqiri's ball into the box, before De Gea was bested by Peter Crouch in the air and Phil Jones bailed out his goalkeeper with brilliant block to deny Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting.
Martial had an effort deflected behind off Kurt Zouma as United look to reassert themselves and the France forward accepted a pass from Pogba to curl a wonderful shot beyond Jack Butland from 20 yards and make it 2-0 after 38 minutes – an advantage preserved when De Gea got a strong hand down to Shaqiri's thumping strike in the final action of the half.
Butland rushed out early in the second period to thwart Martial, by which point Stoke's resolve seemed to have dissipated.
The ex-Monaco youngster should have had a second before the hour when he bundled between Kevin Wimmer and Bruno Martins Indi to sidefoot at Butland from close range.
Under pressure from Jesse Lingard, Zouma then sold Darren Fletcher short with an awful pass and Lukaku scampered towards goal, with the ball finding Mata via Lingard.
The Spanish playmaker threaded the ball narrowly wide of Butland's far post and chose to forgo precision for power when he lashed over the bar in the 65th minute.
It remained for Lukaku to offer a timely reminder of his centre-forward qualities, taking down a drilled pass from Martial to muscularly turn and finish with aplomb.
Marcus Rashford came off a bench lacking rumoured Sanchez makeweight Henrikh Mkhitaryan to test Butland with a deft backheel, while fellow substitute Mame Biram Diouf fired into the side-netting after De Gea saved to crown Stoke's misery.
Key Opta stats:
- Manchester United have won 28 of a possible 30 points in Premier League home games against Stoke.
- Stoke have conceded 50 Premier League goals this season – five of the previous six sides that conceded 50+ goals at this stage of the season were relegated (exception: Swansea in 2016-17).
- Stoke have conceded more league goals than any other team in Europe's big five divisions this season (50).
- Antonio Valencia has scored three Premier League goals for Man Utd this season (19 apps), as many as in his previous four seasons combined (103 apps).
- Paul Pogba has been directly involved in 14 goals in his last 14 Premier League games (4 goals, 10 assists).
- Romelu Lukaku has had a hand in 13 goals in 16 appearances in all competitions for Man Utd at Old Trafford this season (10 goals, 3 assists).
- Anthony Martial has scored in all three of his Premier League appearances against Stoke at Old Trafford.
- Stephen Ireland made his first Premier League start since April 2015 vs Sunderland – 996 days ago.
- Jack Butland (43) has conceded more Premier League goals this season than any other goalkeeper.
- In contrast, David de Gea has kept more clean sheets in the Premier League this season than any other goalkeeper (13).
|With our ´cojones´ Atletico can beat anyone – Costa revels in Super Cup glory|
|Super Cup loss doesn´t change Real Madrid transfer policy, says Lopetegui|
|Griezmann: Super Cup triumph justifies staying at Atletico|
|Valverde defends Suarez performances|
|Simeone´s eclipses Aragones as Atletico´s top coach with seventh title|
|Rockets GM: LeBron James is ´the greatest ever´|
|Salihamidzic, Kovac not standing in way of Rudy exit|
|Jaguars DB Ramsey calls Bills QB Allen ´trash´|
|Real Madrid 2 Atletico Madrid 4 (after extra time): Saul stunner seals Super Cup glory|
|Ex-India Test captain Wadekar dies aged 77|
|Gundogan ready to step up in absence of injured De Bruyne|
|Djokovic overcomes illness to see off Mannarino|
|Diego Costa nets fastest UEFA Super Cup goal ever|
|Everton feared missing out on Mina after World Cup strike|
|Barcelona 3 Boca Juniors 0: Messi, Malcom net as Barca win Joan Gamper Trophy|
|All Blacks stick with Barrett as Mo´unga misses out altogether|
|Modric benched for UEFA Super Cup clash with Atletico Madrid|
|Cipriani charged with assault after Jersey nightclub incident|
|Hamburg 1 Bayern Munich 4: Wagner and Muller hit braces in comeback victory|
|WATCH: Messi scores first goal as Barcelona captain|
|Iniesta, Xavi and Puyol were great teachers, says new Barcelona captain Messi|
|Moses retires from international football|
|Goals, assists, set-pieces - The stats that show De Bruyne is almost irreplaceable for City|
|Bergeron wins mammoth 24-man U.S. Amateur play-off|
|Hart to Burnley "not rocket science", says Dyche|
|Leipzig, Schalke reject Rudy transfer rumours|
|Yedlin knee injury not serious, Newcastle confirm|
|Bartomeu satisfied with Barcelona squad amid Pogba links|
|Kevin De Bruyne suffers knee injury|
|Steelers QB Roethlisberger in concussion protocol|
|Kehrer to PSG not complete, say Schalke|
|Hopoate handed 10-year ban from NSWRL|
|Is this worth it? Injuries prompted Te´o to consider future|
|Croatia hero Subasic retires from international football|
|Iniesta makes it two in two for Vissel Kobe|
|Chelsea send out defensive duo on loan|
|Zaha 2023: Palace star means more than goals|
|De Jong set for Ajax stay despite Barcelona interest|
|Serena ´still at the very beginning´ of comeback|
|Ajax can benefit from Mourinho approach - Blind|
|Foley not convinced by reports All Blacks will drop Barrett|
|Zaha signs Crystal Palace extension|
|Burnley midfielder O´Neill makes A-League loan move|
|Godin yet to renew with Atletico Madrid amid transfer interest|
|Federer ´feeling better every day´ after Wimbledon disappointment|
|Kante comfortable with surprise new Chelsea role|
|Rugby Championship 2018: The numbers behind New Zealand´s dominance|
|LaLiga 2018-19: Bale ready to be Madrid´s shining light after five years in Ronaldo´s shadow|
|Rodgers unimpressed by absence of ´fit´ Boyata|
|Braves´ Acuna Jr. has arrived as a true MLB star|
|LA Galaxy 2 Colorado Rapids 2: Jackson´s deflected strike sees spoils shared|
|Victory offer postponed retirement, says Honda|
|Kyrgios forgets tennis shoes, Federer back in business|
|Williams knocked out as Garcia and Pliskova advance in Ohio|
|Kvitova sees off Serena in Cincinnati classic|
|Federer dispatches Gojowczyk in Cincinnati|
|Stead succeeds Hesson as New Zealand coach|
|Duminy encouraged despite South Africa´s mixed results|
|Thiem withdraws from Cincinnati Masters|
|Edwards joins Ospreys in consultancy role|
|Former Arsenal and Barcelona player Song joins Sion|
|I´m very happy with what I have - Spalletti not desperate for Modric|
|Roethlisberger evaluated for concussion after practice|
|Brady ´absolutely´ expects to face Eagles|
|Rugby Championship 2018: Reasons for optimism and concern for Australia|
|Wentz ´gonna be close´ for Eagles opener|
|Cleveland ´victory fridges´ to unlock beer if Browns finally win|
|England´s Watson suffers injury setback|
|Mariners reinstate Cano after 80-game suspension|
|AEK Athens 2 Celtic 1 (3-2 agg): Rodgers´ men dumped out of Champions League|