Anthony Martial stole the show on Manchester United’s return to action at Old Trafford, netting a hat-trick in a routine 3-0 victory over Sheffield United. The Frenchman looked on top form as United moved within two points of fourth-placed Chelsea; the only shame is that there wasn’t a fan in the ground to witness it.
It took only seven minutes for Martial to net his first. Marcus Rashford beat Phil Jagielka to the ball from a throw-in on the right, and panelled it across the box at full pelt. It would likely have gone straight out for a throw-in were it not for Martial’s brilliant striker’s instinct; the Frenchman launched himself towards the near post and stabbed past Simon Moore for 1-0.
United were in total control for the game’s first quarter, and should’ve been two up within a few minutes. Rashford weighted a perfect pass for Martial, who sped down the left and rolled the ball across goal for his onrushing teammate. Inexplicably, the ball got caught up in Rashford’s feet, and he could only feebly prod wide with the goal gaping.
Rashford looked lively but a little rusty, and he should’ve done better when he sliced a brilliant Paul Pogba dink wide minutes later. Both Pogba and Bruno Fernandes were particularly impressive in the first half, displaying brilliant technique and a fantastic array of passing that kept the Blades’ defenders guessing.
Sheffield United seemed to be growing into the game, but suffered a sucker bunch moments before the halftime whistle. Aaron Wan-Bissaka did well to deceive defender Enda Stevens, jinking one way and then the other before driving a low cross across the area. Martial was left in acres of space in the area, and was left with a simple finish for 2-0.
The second half got off to a pedestrian opening, with United content to tap the ball around on a hot evening in Manchester. It took almost half-an-hour for Martial to cap his performance with a fantastic third, in which Rashford was again involved. An intricate one-two between the strikers culminated in a delicate chip from point-blank range, as Martial confirmed his first senior hat-trick in style.