Wednesday 24 June 2020

Match report: Manchester United 3-0 Sheffield Utd

Anthony Martial hit a devastating hat-trick as Manchester United struck a crucial blow in the race for the Champions League with a comfortable victory at Old Trafford.
The Reds put the blunt Blades to the sword in our first home match since March as Bruno Fernandes and Paul Pogba started together for the first time after the Frenchman's match saving cameo on Friday.
But it was Pogba's compatriot whom would steal the show, with Martial's treble the first in the league by a United player since Robin van Persie, seven years ago.

It took him only seven minutes to get off the mark as the Reds make a lightning start with a goal out of nothing. Aaron Wan - Bissaka's quick throw in found Rashford, he smashed across goal and Martial reacted quickest to turn home under stand in Sheffield stopper Simon Moore.

United were already controlling the game with Pogba and Fernandes linking up to clinical effect. Pogba provided the creativity from a deep holding role alongside Nemanja Matic with Fernandes roaming freely behind the interchanging trio of Mason Greenwood, Rashford and Martial.

All three were involved again as United went close to a second with the match only 15 minutes old. Martial burst clear of the Blades defence with almost embarrassing ease, and found himself one on one with the onrushing Moore. Martial teed up Rashford and we all expected the net to bulge, only for our top scorer to get the ball caught under his foot and send his shot inches wide of the far post.

Harry Maguire had a goal disallowed and saw another header  fly over the bar, before Enda Stevens had a rare chance at the other end, but he failed to trouble David de Gea with a 25 yarder.

Wan - Bissaka had little to do defensively but was being a nuisance in the final third, playing a key role as United capped a dominant first half with the second goal a minute shy of the interval.
Martial was again in the right place at the right time to meet the full-back's excellent cross and steer home a harder-than-it-looked finish to leave Chris Wilder's sagging side with a monumental uphill struggle.

Wilder's team have built their surprisingly high-flying season on a resolute defence but the Reds continued to carve them open at will. Mason Greenwood flashed a shot wide, Fernandes tested Moore from distance and Pogba almost capped a superb individual performance with an equally magnificent goal.

Collecting the ball 25 yards out, Pogba's quick feet and audacious trickery cut a swathe through the backpedaling Blades. The mercurial midfielder weaved and slalomed his way into the box and looked poised to shoot, only for his hat-trick hunting compatriot to take the ball off his twinkle toes.

Speaking of temperamental talents, Martial's moment was not much longer in coming. With the game won in the 74th minute, Matic found Fernandes and he in turned moved the ball on to Rashford, Rashford played a delightful one-two with Martial and he added the coup de grace with a disgustingly filthy lob over the Sheffield United keeper - the culmination of a sweeping move that would have had Old Trafford on its feet. It's a shame that there were no fans present for Martial's stat busting feat, becoming the first man since Robin van Persie to hit a hat-trick in a league game.

Wan - Bissaka flashed a shot wide, Moore kept out Matic with an effort from distance and Greenwood went close to a fourth before Ole Gunnar Solskjaer became the first manager in history to make a quintuple substitution.
Andreas Pereira, Juan Mata, Dan James, Scott McTominay and Odion Ighalo came on in place of Pogba, Greenwood, Rashford, Fernandes and Martial as Ole chose to keep legs fresh and assess his options ahead of Saturday's FA Cup game at Norwich.

Overall team performance: 8/10
United Faithful Man of the Match: Anthony Martial

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