Ole Gunnar Solskjaer told Manchester United supporters unhappy with the club's owners that the Red Devils must "stay together" after his players disappointed those hoping for an FA Cup upset by thumping Tranmere Rovers 6-0 to reach round five.

United arrived at Prenton Park having lost back-to-back Premier League games against Liverpool and Burnley and the club's plight prompted some in the away end to reprise the disgruntled atmosphere that filled Old Trafford after defeat to the Clarets four days earlier.

Goals from Harry Maguire, Diogo Dalot, Jesse Lingard, Phil Jones, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood lightened the mood among the United faithful as Solskjaer's men breezed past League One opposition, and the manager praised his side's approach after they avoided a potential banana skin.

"If you go into the trap of playing long balls and making this game a fight, we're not used to that," Solskjaer told BT Sport. "They would have been better suited than us. We just asked our players to play and it went well.

"I think the players played football the way it should be played. It was an exceptional performance at times. It was a very difficult pitch.

"It wasn't just the Tranmere people who wanted an upset, there were a lot of others. We've just got to stay together and keep working.

"Every game you win is a good one for your confidence. Every time you score a goal and perform well, it's good.

"The attitude was spot on. That's all you can ask for. When the attitude is right, you can't fault them."

Maguire, who opened the scoring for United with a powerful 20-yard drive, and then provided the assist for Lingard to score their third in a display full of guile and attacking intent, said his first goal for the club was long overdue.

"It's been a long time coming," said Maguire. "I've had a lot of chances this year without finding the back of the net. It’s nice to help the team get into the next round.

"It was really important to get the win, coming off the back of a bad performance and result against Burnley.

"We set our stall out to put in a positive performance for the fans. We're in the next round, which is what we came to do."

Diogo Dalot scored his first goal for Manchester United and there were rare strikes from Harry Maguire and Jesse Lingard as the Red Devils routed Tranmere Rovers 6-0 to reach the fifth round of the FA Cup.

A goal glut and a morale-boosting victory was just what Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men needed after suffering back-to-back Premier League defeats, and the United boss watched a fluent performance from his charges despite a cut-up pitch at Prenton Park.

Maguire opened the floodgates with a long-range strike into the top corner and goals from Dalot and Lingard soon followed to put the visitors 3-0 up inside 16 minutes.

Phil Jones headed United's fourth and Anthony Martial's deflected shot made it 5-0 before Mason Greenwood scored a penalty in the second half to wrap up a win that affords under-pressure Solskjaer some breathing space.

After 10 cagey opening minutes, United found space to exploit around the Tranmere box and Maguire strolled forward with the ball before cutting onto his right foot and sending a crisp drive into the top right corner from 20 yards, a slight deflection helping it on its way.

Three minutes later Dalot played a one-two with Martial and skilfully cut inside his marker before hammering an angled drive low into the far corner of the net to double his side's advantage.

Maguire continued his attacking forays and created space on the edge of the box for Lingard to curl United's third into the bottom corner with aplomb, and five minutes before half-time Jones met an Andreas Pereira corner with a looping far-post header over goalkeeper Scott Davies.

Martial rendered the second half a formality when he scored from the left corner of the Tranmere box with a shot that took a wicked deflection and curled just inside the right post.

Substitute Tahith Chong was scythed down by Davies early in the second half and Greenwood rolled his penalty into the bottom left corner.

Dalot broke down the right and lashed a shot towards goal that Davies could only parry away at the near post before Morgan Ferrier missed a one-on-one with Romero at the other end.

Lingard might have scored what would have been just his third goal in 42 games when he tried a bending shot from the edge of the box, but it flashed narrowly wide as a seventh strike eluded United.

 

What does it mean? Trouble averted - in some style

Any sort of victory would have suited Solskjaer here, with anything less likely to have ramped up the pressure on the manager's position towards breaking point.

But in tricky conditions he coaxed a display full of energy and invention from his side in difficult conditions against a side who were not without goal threat despite their lowly status.

Maguire leads by example

United's slow starts have been a problem for them this season, but captain Maguire led the charge into attack from the early stages and showed his team-mates how to take the game to their hosts.

Danns goes missing

The experience of former Leicester City man Neil Danns helped Tranmere beat Watford three days earlier, but United found it all too easy to breeze past the 37-year-old in the middle of midfield.

What's next?

United will hope to be as sharp in front of goal on Wednesday as they aim to overturn a 3-1 deficit in the second leg of their EFL Cup semi-final against Manchester City, while Tranmere entertain Sunderland in League One on the same evening.

Manchester United scored five times in the first half of a competitive match for the first time in 19 years against Tranmere Rovers on Sunday.

With two wins from seven games in all competitions and just six goals scored in 2020, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had been feeling the pressure ahead of the visit to Prenton Park.

United made light of a wretched playing surface, though, with a ruthless first 45 minutes putting them 5-0 ahead.

Harry Maguire scored his first goal for the club with a thumping strike from 25 yards, before Diogo Dalot and Jesse Lingard made it 3-0 after 16 minutes.

Phil Jones' towering header – his first United goal since March 2014 – made it 4-0 and Anthony Martial added a fifth shortly before the break.

The last time United scored five in the first half of a match was back in February 2001, when they destroyed Arsenal in a 6-1 Premier League victory at Old Trafford.

Solskjaer scored the fifth goal that day, which also featured a Dwight Yorke hat-trick and further strikes from Roy Keane and Teddy Sheringham.

Pep Guardiola quickly turned his focus towards Manchester United after Manchester City thrashed Fulham 4-0 in the FA Cup fourth round.

The game as a contest was effectively over inside the opening eight minutes, with visiting captain Tim Ream dismissed for a foul on Gabriel Jesus and Ilkay Gundogan converting the consequent penalty.

Bernardo Silva doubled the hosts' and holders' advantage before the interval at the Etihad Stadium, with Jesus' quickfire second-half double putting the gloss on things.

Next up for City is the visit of bitter rivals United in the second leg of their EFL Cup semi-final, with Guardiola's side boasting a 3-1 aggregate lead.

Reflecting initially on the clash with Championship promotion hopefuls Fulham, Guardiola said: "For a few moments, I thought it would be a tough game.

"They're a team with a lot of courage but it was a bit different after the red card. They still tried to play but the game was over at 3-0.

"The determination was always there and we will fight to win each competition.

"Always we score goals and have the ability to score. The problem this season has been conceding some goals, but it's always good to score goals."

Casting his mind ahead to Wednesday's derby, he added: "Next is United and a chance to get to the final and that is our next target."

Fulham boss Scott Parker conceded his side's hopes of an upset were dashed by Ream's moment of madness, the skipper left "devastated" by his curtailed afternoon.

"Everything we planned for we had to change after six minutes because of the red card," he told BBC Sport.

"Tim Ream is obviously devastated. He has been immense for us this season. He made a mistake today. In the heat of the moment, you make decisions and sometimes you make the wrong ones."

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang continues to be linked with a move from Arsenal and Paris Saint-Germain are the latest European heavyweight reportedly interested in the forward.

Aubameyang, 30, is reportedly a target for Barcelona after scoring 16 goals in 26 games for struggling Arsenal this season.

However, with Edinson Cavani potentially leaving, PSG are also eyeing the Gabon international.

 

TOP STORY – PSG INTERESTED IN AUBAMEYANG AMID BARCELONA LINKS

PSG are considering a move for Aubameyang, according to Foot Mercato.

Cavani may leave the Ligue 1 giants for Atletico Madrid during this transfer window and Aubameyang could be his replacement, the report says.

PSG are reportedly discussing a loan with an option to buy Aubameyang.

 

ROUND-UP

- Staying at Emirates Stadium, Arsenal are close to a deal for Flamengo defender Pablo Mari, according to ESPN and other reports. The Premier League club will reportedly pay £8.4million (€10m) for the Spaniard.

- Marcos Rojo could be on his way out of Manchester United. After just three Premier League appearances this season, the defender is heading back to Estudiantes – where he started his career – on loan, according to the Mirror.

- Carles Perez is set to join Roma. Sky Sport Italia reports the Barcelona forward will join the Serie A club on loan until the end of the season, with a mandatory purchase option for €13m to be part of the deal.

- Inter are already preparing for a period of dominance, including next season. Sport Italia reports Napoli star Lorenzo Insigne has been offered to Inter, who may land the forward ahead of the 2020-21 campaign.

- Inter and Napoli seem to have a decent relationship. CalcioMercato reports Matteo Politano will swap Milan for Naples, where he will sign a deal until 2024 with a medical set for Monday.

- Mauricio Pochettino remains without a job after being sacked by Tottenham in November. The Mirror reports Spurs will be entitled to £10m in compensation if the Argentinian finds another job before the end of the season.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer insisted he held no fears over his job at the helm of Manchester United, but accepted results were needed.

Solskjaer is under increasing pressure at Old Trafford, with United having won just two of their past seven games ahead of visiting Tranmere Rovers in the FA Cup on Sunday.

But the Norwegian said he was unworried about his position, although he knows United – who are fifth in the Premier League – must improve their form.

"When we sat down we all agreed, the club and I, that the culture had to change," Solskjaer told UK media.

"It's not like I've been told without my consent what we're doing, because we agreed to things when we signed contracts and we agreed on a plan. I don't fear for my position in that respect, I just keep on working.

"Of course you know you need results and show you're doing the right things but I won't spend big money on someone to come in here now if they're not right for the club."

United have come under fire amid their poor run of form and an inability to thus far strengthen in January, particularly as they reportedly struggle to land Sporting CP star Bruno Fernandes.

But Solskjaer said signing the right players was the key, suggesting the Premier League giants had failed with their more recent moves in the transfer market.

"It's a skill to look yourself in mirror sometimes and not just blame others as well. That's what some of us do – blame others," he said.

"For me, it's about understanding. We have to spend wisely, that's one of the keys. We've spent loads of money in the past five or six seasons, since Sir Alex Ferguson left.

"I've got to make sure that when we spend the money now it's on the right players and the right types, who will be here in the long run and will add quality now."

Manchester United, Tottenham and Borussia Dortmund are hoping to sign Juventus midfielder Emre Can.

Can, 26, is out of favour in Turin and has made just two Serie A starts this season.

The former Liverpool midfielder will reportedly be allowed to leave during this transfer window and three European giants are eyeing the Germany international.

 

TOP STORY – MAN UTD, TOTTENHAM AND DORTMUND EYE EMRE CAN

Manchester United, Tottenham and Borussia Dortmund are chasing Juventus' Can, according to SPORT1.

With Euro 2020 coming up later this year, Can wants regular playing time to earn a spot in the Germany squad.

Can made 37 appearances in all competitions for Juve last season, but has played just eight times in 2019-20.

Sportmediaset reports Juve are working on a move for Napoli midfielder Allan to replace Can.

 

ROUND-UP

- Inter will wrap up a deal for Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen early next week, according to Sky Sport Italia. The Serie A club will pay €18million (£15.2m) plus €2m (£1.7m) in bonuses for Eriksen, who is out of contract at season's end.

- Staying at San Siro and Inter are targeting Chelsea forward Olivier Giroud after recognising it would be difficult to sign Napoli's Fernando Llorente, according to Sky Sport Italia.

- Barcelona are making progress in their bid to land Valencia forward Rodrigo, according to Sport. While working on a loan move, Barcelona want an option to buy at season's end, while Valencia want it to be an obligation to purchase for around €60m. The report says Barca are willing to pay Valencia a "penalty fee" if they do not make the loan permanent.

- Atletico Madrid midfielder Thomas Lemar is close to signing with Premier League club Arsenal, according to El Chiringuito. Lemar has made just nine LaLiga starts this season.

- Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain are in talks over a swap deal. Goal reports the clubs are discussing swapping full-backs Mattia De Sciglio and Layvin Kurzawa.

- With Marcus Rashford injured, Manchester United have looked at signing Shanghai Shenhua's Odion Ighalo and Monaco's Islam Slimani, who is on loan from Leicester City, according to Sky Sports.

Rebuilding Manchester United cannot be a quick fix and the club must avoiding reacting to outside noise, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said after a week in which the pressure on the Red Devils boss intensified.

After suffering a 2-0 defeat to Premier League leaders Liverpool at Anfield, United were stunned at home by Burnley, who won by the same scoreline in what marked the Clarets' first league victory at Old Trafford since 1962.

United remain six points adrift of the top four and have yet to make a breakthrough in the transfer window, with negotiations with Sporting CP over Bruno Fernandes reported to have hit an impasse.

Solskjaer, though, continues to try to keep matters at the club in perspective, again insisting that a turnaround in United's fortunes will take time.

He told a media conference ahead of Sunday's FA Cup clash at Tranmere Rovers: "I think our fans know what we have started on, and I've been trusted to do that job by the club. For me that rebuild doesn't go one way all the time.

"It doesn't go 'we're doing great, we're doing great, we're winning games'. I've said it so many times, ups and downs.

"The foundation has to be laid and the culture has to be properly set and laid down. With this group I feel I have a good core of players that believe in themselves and believe in what we're doing and I trust them to be the good lads carrying us forward, with some signings, with some players coming back from injury.

"You don't just take your roof off when you're going to rebuild a house, you need to knock your house down and put the foundation in. You don't start with the roof. For us we've had a couple of rainy days and we wish that roof was on but you can't hide."

Asked why United are apparently unable to spend vast sums of money like neighbours Manchester City, Solskjaer replied: "For me, we do have a way of doing things, you can see other teams have done well.

"You can see [Liverpool manager] Jurgen [Klopp] spent four years building his team and they're doing well now.

"It's not gonna be a quick fix, and it's not eight or 10 players in in one transfer window. We've had one transfer window, proper one, because the Januarys, they are difficult, but we are still trying to do something now."

It was put to Solskjaer that predecessors such as David Moyes and Louis van Gaal were not afforded the time to implement long-term plans, but he has heard nothing to suggest he will not be allowed to continue the rebuild.

"When you start on something you stick to that plan. I'm not going to change six eight, or nine or 10 months after I got the job and start believing in a different way," said Solskjaer.

"I'm gonna stick to what I've been trusted to do by the club and hopefully that'll be good enough and that they can see what we're doing is right. We know how football is nowadays, but all my conversations with the club have been positive.

"We can't react to all the noise outside, there's always going to be criticism, you've got to take the criticism at this club, you've got to be stronger mentally probably than anywhere else in the world.

"I feel I am [strong], the club is strong, the staff I've got with me they're very strong mentally, so we're sticking to what we believe in. I've got full faith in what we're doing."

Manchester United have been fined £20,000 by the Football Association for failing to control their players during the 2-0 defeat to Premier League leaders Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday.

Having gone ahead in the 14th minute through Virgil van Dijk's header, Liverpool thought they had a second when Roberto Firmino curled home soon after.

However, the goal was subsequently disallowed following a VAR check, with Van Dijk having been deemed to foul United goalkeeper David de Gea prior to Firmino's strike.

Referee Craig Pawson did not initially blow up for a foul, with United's players - including goalkeeper De Gea, who received a booking - gathering around the official to protest prior to the video review.

The FA has now taken action against United after finding them guilty of a breach of rule E20(a).

"Manchester United FC has been fined £20,000 after admitting a breach of FA Rule E20 and accepting the standard penalty," read a statement.

"The club failed to ensure its players conducted themselves in an orderly fashion during the 26th minute of a Premier League fixture against Liverpool FC on 19 January 2020."

Rebuilding Manchester United cannot be a quick fix and the club must avoiding reacting to outside noise, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said after a week in which the pressure on the Red Devils boss intensified.

After suffering a 2-0 defeat to Premier League leaders Liverpool at Anfield, United were stunned at home by Burnley, who won by the same scoreline in what marked the Clarets' first league victory at Old Trafford since 1962.

United remain six points adrift of the top four and have yet to make a breakthrough in the transfer window, with negotiations with Sporting CP over Bruno Fernandes reported to have hit an impasse.

Solskjaer, though, continues to try to keep matters at the club in perspective, again insisting that a turnaround in United's fortunes will take time.

He told a media conference ahead of Sunday's FA Cup clash at Tranmere Rovers: "I think our fans know what we have started on, and I've been trusted to do that job by the club. For me that rebuild doesn't go one way all the time.

"It doesn't go 'we're doing great, we're doing great, we're winning games'. I've said it so many times, ups and downs.

"The foundation has to be laid and the culture has to be properly set and laid down. With this group I feel I have a good core of players that believe in themselves and believe in what we're doing and I trust them to be the good lads carrying us forward, with some signings, with some players coming back from injury.

"You don't just take your roof off when you're going to rebuild a house, you need to knock your house down and put the foundation in. You don't start with the roof. For us we've had a couple of rainy days and we wish that roof was on but you can't hide."

Asked why United are apparently unable to spend vast sums of money like neighbours Manchester City, Solskjaer replied: "For me, we do have a way of doing things, you can see other teams have done well.

"You can see [Liverpool manager] Jurgen [Klopp] spent four years building his team and they're doing well now.

"It's not gonna be a quick fix, and it's not eight or 10 players in in one transfer window. We've had one transfer window, proper one, because the Januarys, they are difficult, but we are still trying to do something now."

It was put to Solskjaer that predecessors such as David Moyes and Louis van Gaal were not afforded the time to implement long-term plans, but he has heard nothing to suggest he will not be allowed to continue the rebuild.

"When you start on something you stick to that plan. I'm not going to change six eight, or nine or 10 months after I got the job and start believing in a different way," said Solskjaer.

"I'm gonna stick to what I've been trusted to do by the club and hopefully that'll be good enough and that they can see what we're doing is right. We know how football is nowadays, but all my conversations with the club have been positive.

"We can't react to all the noise outside, there's always going to be criticism, you've got to take the criticism at this club, you've got to be stronger mentally probably than anywhere else in the world.

"I feel I am [strong], the club is strong, the staff I've got with me they're very strong mentally, so we're sticking to what we believe in. I've got full faith in what we're doing."

The Christian Eriksen saga could reach an end point as soon as Monday.

Reports in Italy indicate the midfielder's move to Inter is all but complete and a medical has been scheduled.

Eriksen's uncertain future has troubled Tottenham since well before Mauricio Pochettino's departure, with the Denmark international due to become a free agent at the end of the season.

 

TOP STORY – ERIKSEN DEAL AGREED

Eriksen, 27, will undergo a medical in Milan at the beginning of next week, according to various reports in Italy.

CalcioMercato claims Tottenham owner Daniel Levy has accepted an offer from Inter worth €15million (£12.6m), plus €5m (£4.2m) in add-ons.

Eriksen's new contract will reportedly run through to 2024 as the playmaker looks for a fresh start after growing stale in the Premier League.

If the move goes ahead, he will become Antonio Conte's third signing of the January transfer window after wing-backs Ashley Young and Victor Moses.

 

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United could face frustration in their long-running negotiations for Bruno Fernandes, which The Sun says have "collapsed" due to Sporting CP's valuation.

- United, meanwhile, are considering a shock move to bring Boca Juniors striker Carlos Tevez, 35, back to Old Trafford, claims Tuttosport. The Red Devils are in need of attacking reinforcements after losing Marcus Rashford to injury.

- Arsenal captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has given LaLiga giants Barcelona the green light to begin transfer talks, according to Mundo Deportivo.

- Bayern Munich have commenced "concrete discussions" with Lyon over 19-year-old winger Yaya Soumare, reports L'Equipe. Salzburg and Bayern's Bundesliga rivals RB Leipzig are also said to be interested.

- Brazilian attacking midfielder Lucas Paqueta asked Stefano Pioli to be left out of Milan's match against against Brescia because he is keen to leave the club, claims CalcioMercato. Paris Saint-Germain are said to be interested.

Manchester United will face Tranmere Rovers in the FA Cup fourth round on Sunday after the League One side defeated Watford 2-1.

With their initial replay called off due to a waterlogged pitch, Tranmere - who came back from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 at Vicarage Road - and Watford met at Prenton Park on Thursday - just two days after the Hornets' Premier League defeat to Aston Villa.

Nigel Pearson subsequently made wholesale changes and, though Kaylen Hinds' 68th-minute effort cancelled out Emmanuel Monthe's first-half opener, Watford succumbed in extra-time.

Substitute Paul Mullin, who scored a late spot-kick in the first meeting between the sides, was Tranmere's hero - heading in the winner to set up a mouth-watering tie with 12-time winners United.

Liverpool's march towards the Premier League title shows no sign of slowing down, as the Reds claimed a hard-fought 2-1 win over Wolves.

Manchester United are clinging to a top-six position after they slid to a 2-0 home defeat to Burnley, the latest in a string of wretched results this season that have sparked an angry reaction from supporters.

While United toil, neighbours Manchester City ground out a 1-0 win at Sheffield United that continued their resurgent league form, with a winning combination delivering the goal for Pep Guardiola's side.

Leicester City might have expected a challenge from the big clubs behind them by now, but the Foxes continue to sit pretty in third place, and a 4-1 win over West Ham continued to make them look immovable from the top four this season.

The midweek Opta data offers detailed insights into the stories behind those results, revealing a string of telling trends and match facts.

 

MANE INJURY DOES NOT DERAIL LIVERPOOL'S CHARGE

Liverpool lost Sadio Mane to injury during the first half in Thursday's clash with Wolves, yet Roberto Firmino struck late on to claim the win as the Reds became just the fifth side in English Football League history to go 40 straight matches unbeaten.

Jurgen Klopp's side have amassed 67 points from a possible 69 in the Premier League this season; this is at least five more than any side in English top-flight history has ever previously had after as many games of a campaign.

Raul Jimenez drew Wolves level after Jordan Henderson's opener, and the Mexican's header ended a run of 725 minutes without conceding a Premier League goal for Liverpool since Richarlison scored for Everton at Anfield in December.

Jimenez also became the third Premier League player to net 20+ goals in all competitions this season, after Sergio Aguero (21) and Raheem Sterling (20).

Since the start of last season, Liverpool’s Trent Alexander-Arnold has assisted 22 Premier League goals, at least five more than any other player, with 10 of those coming from dead balls, also a league-high.

Firmino, meanwhile, has scored six goals in his last eight games for Liverpool in all competitions, as many as he had in his previous 32 appearances for the club, and all of his 10 Premier League strikes this season have come away from home.

UNITED IN TURMOIL AS CLARETS PUT NEGATIVE SPIN ON OLE REIN

Manchester United may sit fifth, but in terms of points tallies Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's are closer to 14th-placed Newcastle than they are to fourth-placed Chelsea after 24 games.

The league standing is highly vulnerable, given Tottenham, Wolves and even Sheffield United are breathing down United's necks.

Wednesday's 2-0 defeat to Burnley means United now have a negative Premier League win-loss record since manager Solskjaer was given the job on a full-time basis in March.

They had impressed during his caretaker spell, but since Solskjaer went from being a stand-in to the chosen one, their record shows 11 wins and 12 defeats in the Premier League.

United's Old Trafford setback followed their 2-0 loss to Liverpool at Anfield, meaning they have suffered back-to-back league defeats for the second time under their Norwegian boss.

Burnley looked to be in freefall just days ago and relegation was becoming a serious concern, but wins over United and Leicester City have lifted them to 30 points - just four adrift of the Red Devils.

PASSPORTS AT THE READY, LEICESTER LOOK BOOKED IN FOR CHAMPIONS LEAGUE RETURN

Catch them if you can! Leicester City had a wobble with defeats to Southampton and Burnley, but Brendan Rodgers' men now sit 14 points clear of fifth place and surely their destiny is a second season in the Champions League.

In the absence of anything approaching a charge from teams outside the top four, it would take a spectacular collapse for the Foxes to miss out, with a 4-1 win over West Ham on Wednesday emphasising their quality.

Leicester have racked up eight wins in 12 Premier League home games so far, their best record at this stage of a season, and the 52 goals they have banged in amounts to their most in the top flight from their first 24 games since the achieved the same tally in 1930-31.

Rodgers and West Ham boss David Moyes were once rivals on Merseyside, in charge of Liverpool and Everton respectively.

While Rodgers eyes success towards the top of the table, Moyes has taken on a relegation battle with a West Ham side who are outside the bottom three on goal difference alone.

Since the start of October 2019, no team have gained fewer points (11) or lost more games (11) in the Premier League than West Ham, and it gets no easier: Liverpool are their next opponents.

At least that game is a home fixture for the Hammers. Moyes' away record in matches against teams starting the day in the Premier League top four is diabolical, winning just one of 50 such games.

KEVIN KEEN TO HELP - DE BRUYNE IS KING OF THE ASSISTS

When Sergio Aguero turned in a cross from Kevin De Bruyne to give Manchester City a 1-0 victory at Sheffield United, it was more than merely two Premier League greats combining to deadly effect.

History, in fact, was made in that motion, with De Bruyne becoming the first player in the Premier League era to provide 15 or more assists in three different seasons.

The Belgian had 18 in 2016-17, 16 the following season, and after an injury-wracked 2018-19 campaign he already has 15 from 23 appearances this term.

The scale of De Bruyne's achievement can be better appreciated by considering the likes of Ryan Giggs, Cesc Fabregas, Dennis Bergkamp and his own City colleague David Silva have been unable to produce at that level so consistently.

Former Wolfsburg playmaker De Bruyne has entered the top 20 of all-time assist providers in the Premier League, and there is no keeping Aguero down either.

Aguero has been directly involved in 43 goals in 43 Premier League appearances against newly promoted teams - scoring 35 goals and assisting in eight more.

It took City until the 73rd minute to make their breakthrough at Bramall Lane, and a lot of the credit for the hosts' resilience went to goalkeeper Dean Henderson, whose first-half penalty save from Gabriel Jesus means he has stopped four of the last eight spot-kicks he has faced in English league football.

Sporting CP have announced the signing of striker Andraz Sporar, while talks with Manchester United over Bruno Fernandes have reportedly collapsed.

The Portuguese side were said to be eager to generate significant income this month, but a deal with United over midfielder Fernandes appears to have been stalling for some days.

According to the latest reports, United co-chairman Joel Glazer has stepped in to make it clear the Red Devils will not match Sporting's asking price of €80m.

Despite their need for funds, Sporting have still invested in Slovenia striker Sporar, who has signed a five-year contract with the club that contains a €60m release clause.

Reports in Portugal say the 25-year-old has joined in a €6m deal from Slovan Bratislava, having passed his medical after arriving in Lisbon late on Tuesday.

Sporar had been linked with Scottish champions Celtic and Turkish giants Besiktas.

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