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Martial law for Devils: Frenchman delivers first United hat-trick in league since Van Persie back in 2013

Man United 3 Sheffield Utd 0

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RARE OCCURRENCE: Anthony Martial scored a hat-trick at Old Trafford against the Blades. Photo: Michael Steele/NMC Pool/PA Wire

RARE OCCURRENCE: Anthony Martial scored a hat-trick at Old Trafford against the Blades. Photo: Michael Steele/NMC Pool/PA Wire

PA

RARE OCCURRENCE: Anthony Martial scored a hat-trick at Old Trafford against the Blades. Photo: Michael Steele/NMC Pool/PA Wire

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was proud of sharpshooter Anthony Martial's match-winning display as the forward's maiden Manchester United hat-trick sealed a comfortable win against European hopefuls Sheffield United.

The 24-year-old endured a topsy-turvy time at Old Trafford following a fine debut campaign under Louis Van Gaal, with Jose Mourinho keen to sell an inconsistent forward who at times infuriated his manager.

But successor Solskjaer put his faith in Martial and gave him the number nine shirt back at the start of the season, and the former United striker helped him fine tune his work in front of goal.

Impressive

The 1999 treble hero has been rewarded with the France international's best goalscoring season to date, with last night's impressive treble taking his tally to 19 and sealing a 3-0 win against the Blades at an empty Old Trafford.

"Very happy for Anthony," Solskjaer said, having seen Martial score a superb scooped effort after two poacher's finishes at the near post.

"Of course when you get your hat-trick... it's just unfortunate he didn't celebrate with our fans. I thought our performance deserved a win, definitely.

"The third goal was a great goal, but for me the first and the second were better.

"He's in the box, ready to go. We have worked on that, getting in the box in that situation more often.

"At the near post he showed composure and I think as I said the first goal was vital the way he turns and gets himself into a position to score from Marcus (Rashford's) cross, very pleased with that.

"He's getting more and more into those position he could have had one at Spurs a great turn and finish and a great save he's in good form."

It was a smooth evening for Solskjaer, but there was a hint of frustration given moments that lacked cutting edge.

"At times it was very, very good football," the United boss said.

"We could and should have scored more goals to put the game to bed before half-time.

"Always worrying going into half-time knowing you should have scored goals the way we controlled the game, pressed and stopped them playing.

"Very happy with it.

Happy

"Still more to come and we shouldn't be 100 per cent happy with it."

Last night also offered an exciting first glimpse of inspired January signing Bruno Fernandes alongside Paul Pogba, who produced a promising display on his first start since September.

"Paul is still a bit away from his best form," Solskjaer said. "That's natural because it's his first start since September. He's been working hard.

"I thought we controlled the game. Paul and Bruno showed some quality and it's exciting for us to be working with talent like this. Now it's keep on working, onto the next one."

Martial's hat-trick was a first for a United player since Robin van Persie's treble against Aston Villa in 2013.

He got off the mark after just seven minutes when he converted Marcus Rashford's drilled cross at the near post.

His second arrived a minute before half-time, Martial converting a cross from Aaron Wan-Bissaka after a neat interchange between Fernandes and Pogba.

Martial completed his treble with 16 minutes remaining when he exchanged passes with Rashford before coolly dinking the ball over Blades keeper Simon Moore.

With the match won Solskjaer made all five of his allotted substitutes at once, with Martial and Rashford among those given a breather.