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Sunday 26 January 2020

Martial double makes it season to be Ole!

Manchester United 4 Newcastle United 1

Anthony Martial celebrates scoring Manchester United's second goal of the game. PA Photo
Anthony Martial celebrates scoring Manchester United's second goal of the game. PA Photo

Manchester United defender Harry Maguire admitted the pressure was on his side to respond after their shock defeat against Watford last weekend, as he suggested the 4-1 win against Newcastle at Old Trafford was the perfect response.

Anthony Martial's brace were accompanied by goals from Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's Manchester United got back to winning ways in style, with stand-in skipper Maguire saluting his side's efforts as they bounced back from a limp 2-0 defeat at Vicarage Road last Sunday.

"Against Watford we were not good enough for our standard but the boys showed a great intensity today," he said.

"We thoroughly deserved the three points. We have now got a big game in two days and our story so far has been a good performance and then a not so good one.

"We got the win and that was important today. We were in control of the game but they hit us on the counter-attack. We gave a sloppy goal away and we were too wide as a back four, but we will learn from it.

Mentality

"Overall, we showed great mentality to come back after a poor result last time. We scored four great goals. We know we can score goals. We have to make sure our mentality is right and we are young squad but we have been too inconsistent this season."

This was one of the rare occasions when Man United were able to dominate possession and win - in fact, just the second time in 18 league matches - but there remains work to do, with the defence high among the priorities.

Longstaff scored the winner on a dream top-flight debut against Solskjaer's men in October and was able to open the scoring at Old Trafford, extending a club-record run without a Premier League clean sheet to a 14th match.

Yet that soft underbelly did not cost Man United this time as Martial struck a quickfire leveller, which 18-year-old Mason Greenwood added to emphatically.

Sharp build-up play down the left led Luke Shaw to play into Andreas Pereira, whose smart first-time lay-off was greeted by a Martial strike that beat Martin Dubravka at his near post to the relief of the Old Trafford faithful.

Pereira and Rashford had attempts soon after, with the latter bellowing at Greenwood when the 18-year-old gobbled up a wayward Fabian Schar pass. But the teenager ignored him and unleashed a sensational left-footed strike that went in off the underside of the bar via a slight touch off Federico Fernandez.

Rashford headed home a third as half-time approached when he leapt brilliantly to head home a clipped Aaron Wan-Bissaka cross. Newcastle's angry claims that Matty Longstaff was fouled in the build-up fell on deaf ears.

An undercooked backpass from Sean Longstaff allowed Martial to add another early in a second period in which the France forward hit the post and half-time introduction Paul Pogba stepped up his return from an ankle injury.

Pleased

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was pleased with his side's display.

"After going 1-0 down we made them make mistakes and we capitalised really well," said the United boss. "We created chance against Watford too but we didn't take them.

"Mason Greeenwood is a great striker of the ball. You know he is going to hit the target more times than not. The way he strikes it is nice to see and he is so unfazed by whatever happens.

"The three of them (United strikers) are a handful when we can get the space we did today.

"These boys will never give up, this club knows that towards the end we can nick a point or even three from losing positions.

"Now we have to go again. It is not fair to ask players to play two games in three days but we just have to get on with it, we are young and mentally strong and that means we will be ready."

Newcastle manager Steve Bruce admitted he was disappointed by his side's defensive display, as they failed to back up their 1-0 win against United in October in this latest meeting.

"Bad equaliser. Worst second one. Poor third. Ridiculous fourth," said an honest Bruce.

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