Manchester United increased their chances of securing Champions League football on Wednesday by seeing off fellow challengers Sheffield United 3-0 at Old Trafford.
It didn't take long for the United frontline to spring into action, with Marcus Rashford drilling a ball across goal for Anthony Martial to slam home. The provider should have turned scorer soon after, but trickled a shot wide with the goal gaping following Martial's lay-off.
The Frenchman did manage to grab his second before the break, after neat work on the edge of the box ended with Aaron Wan-Bissaka crossing low for Martial to tidily convert.
⚽⚽⚽ Anthony Martial has scored Man Utd’s first PL hat-trick in 263 games, spanning 7 years & 63 days, since Robin van Persie v Aston Villa in April 2013— Sky Sports Statto (@SkySportsStatto) June 24, 2020
? It’s the first hat-trick of Martial’s club career, in his 284th appearance pic.twitter.com/UP5WH6S8Z9
Not to be denied a maiden hat-trick for the club, a deft chip over the onrushing Simon Moore perfectly capped off a fine individual performance, and one that boosts United's hopes of securing Champions League football for next term.
Key Talking Point
It's what all the fans were waiting for, Brogba.....Pogno? Hmm, perhaps not, that's awful. Forget about that.
But, yes, Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba starting in the same United team. It's happening. And, not only did it look positive throughout, but the display from the entire United team looked as good as we've seen for some time.
In attack they were slick and bursting with pace, while behind them they had the creative touch of Pogba and Fernandes, which made the Blades' evening even more troublesome. In truth, it was the level of performance that United fans have been craving all season. There was added steel from a revitalised Nemanja Matic, while Wan-Bissaka was a constant menace.
Was it perfect? Of course not. But when the early signs are there for this side to flourish and grow, the only thing that is missing is Champions League football. Will they get it? Based on this display, and with the run-in they have, we'd be stunned if they didn't. That 'crisis' back in January feels like a million years ago now, doesn't it?
Man Utd Player Ratings
Starting XI: De Gea (7); Wan-Bissaka (8), Lindelof (7), Maguire (7), Shaw (7); Matic (8), Pogba (8), Martial (9*), Fernandes (8*), Rashford (8); Greenwood (7).
Substitutes: Pereira (5), James (6), Ighalo (6), McTominay (6), Mata (6).
Was this his greatest United display? Bizarrely, given that he scored a hat-trick, possibly no. But the quality of his finishes were of the highest order.
A great number of United players could have gotten the nod, but it's hard to overlook Anthony Martial bagging three very fine goals. Rustiness? What rustiness?
Key Talking Point
Whatever the outcome of the Blades' season, it's still arguably the greatest in the club's long, illustrious history. They've been nothing short of superb on their return to the top flight, and they deserve all the praise in the world.
You can't hide the fact that the break from football has been detrimental to their rhythm. Their solid defensive structure is starting to show glaring cracks, with their last three performances nowhere near the lofty standard they'd set themselves before the Premier League was postponed.
Europe is still not out of the question though. This showing, while defensibly questionable, was an improvement in the final third, and the signings they're making as a club bode well for the future.
Sheffield United Player Ratings
Starting XI: Moore (5); Basham (6), Jagielka (5), Robinson (5); Baldock (6), Fleck (6), Norwood (6), Lundstram (6*), Stevens (5); McGoldrick (5), Mousset (5).
Substitutes: McBurnie (N/A), Berge (N/A) Zivkovic (5).
His hopes of securing Champions League football with the Blades may have suffered a significant blow, but John Lundstram still put in a decent shift at the heart of midfield. All of the Blades' best play came through the midfielder, who was positive in possession and did his best to press the United players.
United take on another of the newly promoted side up next, as they travel to Norwich on Saturday, while the Blades are in FA Cup action on Sunday with a home visit of Arsenal
Source : 90min