Manchester United’s derby victory this evening saw Anthony Martial come up trumps once more versus Man City, amid a superb all-round performance.
United march on
The fixture of the Premier League weekend took place at Old Trafford a short time ago.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s in-form United welcomed Manchester neighbours City to the Theatre of Dreams, for a hotly-anticipated showdown.
The Red Devils headed into proceedings on the back of a 9-match unbeaten streak across all competitions, a run which had seen them advance in both the Europa League and FA Cup, and reestablish themselves as protagonists in the Premier League top-4 race.
Manchester City, though, were no doubt also brimming with confidence ahead of kick-off, having followed a Champions League last-16 first-leg victory over Real Madrid by clinching their 3rd-straight League Cup title last weekend.
When all was said and done at Old Trafford, though, the Citizens’ 5-match win streak was brought to a deserved end.
Anthony Martial bagged the game’s crucial opener with half an hour on the clock, courtesy of a moment of magic.
After hosts United were awarded an admittedly soft free-kick for a challenge on Bruno Fernandes 30 yards from goal, the Portuguese midfielder dinked the subsequent set-piece over the City backline, into the path of the aforementioned Martial.
And the French international made no mistake with his first-time finish, driving a low volley under the body of Ederson.
The Red Devils then went close again shortly after the interval, when the uncharacteristically-shaky Ederson required a goalline intervention to prevent Martial’s brace.
A weakened City, though, grew into proceedings as the clash wore on, to gain firm control of the closing half-hour.
The introduction of Riyad Mahrez down the Sky Blues’ left saw the Algerian quickly pin youngster Brandon Williams back, to finally provide Pep Guardiola’s men with a creative outlet in the absence of star man Kevin De Bruyne.
Manchester United, though, marshalled by the leadership of Harry Maguire, stood firm in the face of adversity.
The hosts managed to restrict City to a handful of half-chances, the best of which saw Raheem Sterling just fail to get enough on Mahrez’s driven cross to direct the ball beyond David de Gea.
And, with just seconds remaining, the Red Devils’ resoluteness paid off, as Scott McTominay put the clash to bed with an all-important 2nd.
Yet another mistake on the part of Ederson saw the City shot-stopper’s attempted throw out from the back land at the feet of McTominay 30 yards from goal, with the Scottish international having made no mistake with his finish, side-footing a pinpoint effort into an empty net to secure all 3 points for United.
Martial’s derby dominance
While it may have been McTominay who put the icing on the cake of a superb evening all-round for the hosts, though, as outlined above, it was another of the Red Devils’ stars who proved the real difference-maker in the derby.
The individual in question was Anthony Martial.
Frenchman Martial led by example throughout his 80 minutes on the pitch at Old Trafford, finally piecing together the kind of all-round performance that Manchester United fans know their no. 9 to be capable of producing.
He led the line in the true fashion of an old-school centre-forward, mixing it up with superb hold-up play and bursts in behind to keep City’s backline on their toes.
Martial even proved key on the defensive side of the ball, popping up with a number of crucial clearing headers in the hosts’ box.
Most telling of all, though, was of course the 24-year-old’s first-half strike.
Martial kept his cool when it mattered most, perfectly connecting with Bruno Fernandes’ sumptuous set-piece to hand United control of proceedings at a critical point in the derby.
And, as showcased below, this is far from the first time that the former Monaco man has come up with the goods when the Red Devils have needed it most versus their city rivals.
Martial has now found the net in 3 consecutive Premier League starts versus Manchester City, as United’s man for the big occasion continues to shine versus Pep Guardiola’s champions:
2 – Anthony Martial is the first Man United player to score both home and away against rivals Man City in a single Premier League season since Cristiano Ronaldo in 2006-07. Creative. #MNUMCI pic.twitter.com/ltDurWawoB
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 8, 2020
3 – Anthony Martial is only the second Manchester United player to score in three consecutive starts in Premier League Manchester derbies, and the first since Eric Cantona netted in five in a row between March 1993 & April 1996. Rare. #MNUMCI pic.twitter.com/3xfCmBDMpJ
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 8, 2020