A Paul Pogba-inspired Manchester United cruised to victory as incoming Stoke boss Paul Lambert watched his new side’s struggles continue at Old Trafford.

The France midfielder created first-half goals for Antonio Valencia and Anthony Martial, added to by Romelu Lukaku after the break as Jose Mourinho’s men cut Manchester City’s lead at the top of the Premier League to 12 points.

United might have had an early penalty when Martial was felled by Stoke debutant Moritz Bauer, but referee Anthony Taylor waved away protests.

Two minutes later, Pogba charged forward and found Valencia, who cut inside Josh Tymon and fired into the top corner with his left foot.

Martial collected Pogba’s pass and bent a superb finish past goalkeeper Jack Butland from 20 yards for the second – before Lukaku rifled home the third late in the game.

Stoke did create several chances. Midfielder Stephen Ireland – starting his first game since April 2015 – should have scored from 12 yards but fired wide, and goalkeeper David de Gea made excellent stops to deny Xherdan Shaqiri and substitute Mame Biram Diouf.

The Potters, beaten by three or more goals for the seventh time this season, remain in the relegation zone, a point adrift of fourth-bottom Southampton.

It might have been worse but for the reactions of England international Butland, who prevented United substitute Marcus Rashford from adding a fourth goal.

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