It seemed like there was no hope. Manchester United seemed destined for another 0-0 draw — then Anthony Martial stepped up.
The goal came from nothing. David De Gea’s long bomb up field was met by the head of Romelu Lukaku. The ensuing flick-on header would fall perfectly to Martial who was in behind the defense. And as cool and calm as you’d like, he would tuck the ball into the far corner by Lloris sending Old Trafford into a frenzy.
“It was important for us. We were playing against one of the best teams in the league, thanks to this guy (Anthony Martial) we managed to score and win the game,” said Nemanja Matic to Sky Sports.
This result is massive for Manchester United. They were facing the reality of being seven points off of Manchester City pending the results of their match with West Bromwich Albion.
Seven points behind a team on pace to score 130+ goals this season — I don’t like those odds. But like the United of old, they found — no, willed themselves to win.
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Anthony Martial hasn’t had the easiest time at Old Trafford. His amazing debut season was followed up by last season where there was more talk of him potentially leaving than his performances on the pitch.
He’s become a hero for United once more.
Martial’s late winner is just the latest in a series of fantastic performances this season. He has been involved in 12 goals this year in just 604 minutes of play — 6 goals and 6 assists. He truly is the super sub United have needed. But he’s much more than that.
He’s the catalyst — one of many — that United have. Players that can change a game. Marcus Rashford, Romelu Lukaku, Paul Pogba are also included in that list.
But today it’s about Martial.
With all the pressure of Old Trafford, of United fans around the world, with the pressure of Rashford’s competition for that starting left-wing spot; Martial put it all behind him with his finish.
This was a total team performance. This was the first time United have played in a 3-5-2 formation in the league all year. Despite that, Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young looked like they’ve been playing wing-backs their whole career.
United weren’t backing down. They were the under dogs.
Young, now 32, wasn’t backing down from anyone. Including Spurs star Dele Alli. Young getting in his face set the tone for how United would approach this match.
The perseverance to not give up culminated with Martial’s goal. Had this result gone any other way, United fans would all feel as if the title challenge was over. Now, it feels like the race is just getting started.
But as the fans sing, “£50 million down the drain, ‘Tony Martial scores again.”