Manchester United 3-0 Sheffield United: Anthony Martial hat-trick sinks Blades

Anthony Martial scored Manchester United’s first Premier League hat-trick for over seven years as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men eased past Sheffield United at Old Trafford.

Robin van Persie was the last United player to score a treble in the league.

And while there was nothing to compare with the Dutchman’s brilliant volley against Aston Villa that helped seal the 13th and final title of Sir Alex Ferguson’s illustrious reign, Martial did complete his own milestone with a delightful chipped finish over Simon Moore after collecting Marcus Rashford’s return pass.

The result moves United to within two points of fourth-placed Chelsea, who entertain Manchester City on Thursday.

However, for Chris Wilder’s visitors it was another disappointing day. The Blades have now picked up just one point from three games since the resumption and are yet to score.

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Martial benefiting from Fernandes’ arrival

United’s decision to sell Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez to Inter Milan in August and not buy a replacement has been a talking point for most of the season.

And for most of the campaign, it looked like a poor move.

But, just as United’s fortunes have changed markedly since the arrival of Bruno Fernandes in January, so Martial has profited too.

In seven league games since Fernandes arrived from Sporting Lisbon for £47m, Martial has scored six goals.

He now has 19 for the campaign – his best return in five years at Old Trafford. And while he has a bit to do before he matches Lukaku’s 27 goals from two seasons ago, it is three more than the Belgian managed last term.

Even more satisfying for Solskjaer, the striker’s first-half strikes were exactly the kinds of goals he has been imploring him to score.

Both were runs to the near post, the first took him a bit nearer to the goal than the second. But on each occasion, Martial found the net with a clinical first-time finish to convert low crosses from Rashford.

Martial is not known for his smiling but even he managed one after scoring his third, after previously scoring twice in a game for United five times in five years.

However, to put it into context, Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero has scored 11 on his own since United’s last two.

The Pogba and Fernandes axis

It was the first time Paul Pogba and Fernandes had started a game together and there were signs the pair could be a potent midfield combination.

Pogba operated in a slightly deeper role, closer to holding midfielder Nemanja Matic but evidently with licence to go forward.

Had Rashford not fluffed his first-time volley as he latched on to a brilliant chipped pass from Pogba at the end of a move Fernandes did much to influence, it would have ended a superb passage of play.

With Matic as well, there was a synergy about the home side in the middle of the field that, in the second half in particular, the visitors found it difficult to contain, judging by the rather blunt messages being delivered by the Blades’ players.

Pogba was mesmeric at times. One run through the visitors’ defence involved close control with both feet, balance on both sides and delightful close control. The pity was Martial stepped in to take the shot – which he missed – rather than let his fellow Frenchman try to find his own way to goal.

Disappointing restart for Blades

It has not been a great restart for the Blades. One point and no goals from three games in a week has ended the optimistic talk about a Champions League place.

The loss of goalkeeper Dean Henderson – not allowed to play against his parent club – John Egan through suspension and Jack O’Connell to injury meant there was reduced chance of the visiting United recording a first Old Trafford success since April 1973.

However, they looked tired at the end and need to pick themselves up quickly if they are to secure a top-half finish, which would be their first in the top flight since 1974-75.

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Line-ups

Man Utd

Substitutes

Sheff Utd

Substitutes

Match Stats

Live Text

Match ends, Manchester United 3, Sheffield United 0.

Full Time

Second Half ends, Manchester United 3, Sheffield United 0.

Offside, Manchester United. Andreas Pereira tries a through ball, but Juan Mata is caught offside.

Corner, Manchester United. Conceded by Oliver McBurnie.

Corner, Manchester United. Conceded by Simon Moore.

Attempt saved. Odion Ighalo (Manchester United) left footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the bottom right corner.

Corner, Manchester United. Conceded by Simon Moore.

Attempt saved. Oliver McBurnie (Sheffield United) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Richairo Zivkovic.

Substitution

Substitution, Manchester United. Juan Mata replaces Mason Greenwood.

Substitution

Substitution, Manchester United. Daniel James replaces Marcus Rashford.

Substitution

Substitution, Manchester United. Scott McTominay replaces Bruno Fernandes.

Substitution

Substitution, Manchester United. Andreas Pereira replaces Paul Pogba.

Substitution

Substitution, Manchester United. Odion Ighalo replaces Anthony Martial.

Goal!

Goal! Manchester United 3, Sheffield United 0. Anthony Martial (Manchester United) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Marcus Rashford with a through ball.

Corner, Sheffield United. Conceded by Luke Shaw.

Attempt missed. Mason Greenwood (Manchester United) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Marcus Rashford.

Foul by Mason Greenwood (Manchester United).

John Fleck (Sheffield United) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Booking

Luke Shaw (Manchester United) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.

Foul by Luke Shaw (Manchester United).

John Lundstram (Sheffield United) wins a free kick on the right wing.

Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by Sander Berge (Sheffield United).

Substitution

Substitution, Sheffield United. Richairo Zivkovic replaces David McGoldrick.

Attempt missed. Harry Maguire (Manchester United) header from the centre of the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Luke Shaw with a cross following a corner.

Corner, Manchester United. Conceded by Chris Basham.

Attempt missed. Anthony Martial (Manchester United) right footed shot from the centre of the box is high and wide to the right. Assisted by Paul Pogba.

Marcus Rashford (Manchester United) wins a free kick on the left wing.

Foul by John Fleck (Sheffield United).

Corner, Manchester United. Conceded by George Baldock.

Corner, Manchester United. Conceded by Phil Jagielka.

Attempt blocked. Mason Greenwood (Manchester United) left footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked.

Attempt blocked. Mason Greenwood (Manchester United) left footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Paul Pogba.

Corner, Manchester United. Conceded by Enda Stevens.

Corner, Sheffield United. Conceded by Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

Foul by Harry Maguire (Manchester United).

Phil Jagielka (Sheffield United) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

Paul Pogba (Manchester United) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

Foul by David McGoldrick (Sheffield United).

Second Half

Second Half begins Manchester United 2, Sheffield United 0.

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