Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Old Trafford return ended in another victory for Manchester United’s caretaker manager as a Paul Pogba brace helped see off spirited Huddersfield.
Charged with injecting new life into United’s ailing season following Jose Mourinho’s dismissal, Solskjaer’s side failed to reach the heights scaled at Cardiff yet ended up with another comprehensive Premier League win.
The 45-year-old received a superb reception as he returned to Old Trafford as the club’s manager, 11-and-a-half years after representing them as a player, and oversaw a 3-1 win against Huddersfield as Pogba’s pair complemented Nemanja Matic’s first-half goal.
It could have been a different story had captain David De Gea not produced an outstanding stop to deny Laurent Depoitre levelling during a spell in the ascendancy for David Wagner’s strugglers. Huddersfield would beat the United goalkeeper, but Mathias Jorgensen’s effort was only a consolation.
That late goal, and the Terriers’ time on top, underlined the work still required at United, but the fans’ appreciation was as audible as it was understandable after flashes of excitement at a ground where there has been precious little.
The feel-good factor around Old Trafford was clear from the start, with the caretaker boss given a huge ovation as he emerged from the tunnel.
Sir Alex Ferguson, Wayne Rooney and Ryan Giggs were among the star names in attendance and nearly saw Huddersfield land the first blow as United’s shaky backline was unsteadied by a long throw as Terence Kongolo fired over.
It was a let-off for a United side that had otherwise started positively, with their full-backs pushing forwards and the team pressing.
But confident play was not translating into clear-cut chances until the 28th minute.
Victor Lindelof’s powerful header from a whipped Marcus Rashford corner was cleared off the line by Elias Kachunga, only for the ball to fall kindly for Matic to turn in from close range.
United barely allowed Huddersfield up for air in the period that followed.
Juan Mata saw a shot deflected wide after patient build-up, before Rashford got fans on their feet by nutmegging Jorgensen and sending in a low cross for Diogo Dalot to fizz just wide at the far post.
Old Trafford showed its appreciation and Rashford twice had attempts from an acute angle before the break, which Fred nearly allowed Huddersfield to enter level after losing Philip Billing and seeing him fire into the side-netting.
The Brazil midfielder and Dalot would be hooked just eight minutes into the second half, with Solskjaer turning to Ander Herrera and Ashley Young having seen Huddersfield started with confidence that belied their lowly standing.
Depoitre attempted an overhead kick, Isaac Mbenza had a shot blocked and Kachunga fizzed over before United’s changes, with De Gea coming to the rescue as United’s wobble continued.
Depoitre met a corner from the right with a strike into the ground, which the United skipper prevented finding the top corner with a superb one-handed stop.
That save gave United the platform to go on and secure three points.
Neat build-up play involving Rashford, Mata and Herrera ended with Pogba coolly sweeping out of Jonas Lossl’s reach in front of the Stretford End.
Luke Shaw saw an attempt denied before Pogba added gloss to the scoreline by taking aim from distance and sending another low effort out of the Huddersfield’s goalkeeper reach.
This attempt was more eye-catching and the Frenchman lapped up the adulation.
Teenager Angel Gomes replaced Juan Mata with 10 minutes remaining – a period in which Solskjaer and his coaching staff were serenaded by the grateful home fans.
Jorgensen turned in a late goal for the Terriers, but there was no taking the edge off a good day for United.