Martial sinks Southampton as Man Utd set sights on the title
Teenager becomes only the third player to score on first two United appearances in Premier League
Southampton 2 Manchester United 3
Manchester United moved into second spot on Sunday and it was that man Anthony Martial who again provided their inspiration. In scoring twice against Southampton the 19-year-old Frenchman, signed for £36m at the end of last month, became the third United player to score on both of his first two Premier League appearances for United.
Martial joins Louis Saha in 2004 and Federico Macheda in 2009, and United manager Louis van Gaal couldn't hide his delight at the way Martial has taken to life at Old Trafford. "He is doing great," declared Van Gaal, who signed Martial from French club Monaco and then saw him score against Liverpool on his debut. "He adapts to the system of how we want to play, that is also important. Not every player can but he shows he wants to do that."
Cautioning against getting too carried away, Van Gaal added that Martial is still very much a work in progress. "When you are 19, you cannot expect consistency," explained the Dutchman. "Emotionally they shall have a lot of dips so that I expect also from him but that is not a big problem for me. He scores goals. That is the most important thing, that as a striker he scores goals. He can improve I think but he has a high level of talent."
United's victory moves them into second on a weekend when Manchester City, Crystal Palace and Arsenal all lost. Now just two points behind their local rivals, City, Van Gaal is gaining in confidence after a stuttering start to the season. "We have made a statement that we shall compete for the title," Van Gaal said. "You cannot expect a title from a team in transition. But when we are close we shall grab it."
It was a far from perfect display from United and they went a goal behind on 13 minutes when Graziano Pelle pounced on the rebound after David de Gea had done well to save Sadio Mane's initial shot.
United were under the cosh with Pelle close to a second when he hit the outside of the post, but United soaked up the pressure and then levelled on 34 minutes with their first shot of the game.There was a hint of offside as Mata provided an assist to Martial but there was nothing dubious about the teenager's finish as he turned Virgil van Djik with a feint and fired home from eight yards.
Five minutes after the break Martial made it 2-1 to the visitors, seizing on a poor backpass from Maya Yoshida to leave Maarten Stekelenburg no chance. Juan Mata added a third on 68 minutes and though Pelle pulled one back for the Saints with a header four minutes from time it was too little, too late. "The first 30 minutes we played perfectly, we had good organisation and they had difficulty breaking us, reflected Southampton manager Ronald Koeman. "We didn't lose because of Manchester United, we lost by ourselves... We lost belief."