Martial marks Man Utd and Charlton milestone with Everton win
Holly Thackeray | April 3, 2016
Manchester United 1-0 Everton
- Old Trafford held re-naming ceremony of South Stand in honour of Sir Bobby Charlton
- First 45 ended evenly in Manchester
- Martial put Man Utd ahead on 54 minutes from Fosu-Mensah cross
- Frenchman’s strike is United’s 1000th PL goal at Old Trafford
Man Utd stay in race for fourth place
Manchester United made strides in the scrap for Premier League fourth place, with a fiercely contested 1-0 victory against Everton.
There was a celebratory mood surrounding Old Trafford as Red Devils and England legend Sir Bobby Charlton, who lifted a European Cup with the Northwest giants in 1968 as well as the 1966 World Cup, was honoured by the club, with the Mancunian’s naming the Theatre of Dreams’ South Stand after the 78-year-old.
As revered Sir Bobby took to the pitch, his name spelled out across the stadium, it was a fitting afternoon for young poaching prodigy Anthony Martial to hit United’s 1000th Premier League goal at Old Trafford in the second-half.
Man Utd (now 2/1 with Coral to clinch a Champions League spot) now move within one point of fourth place inter-city rivals Manchester City, having leapfrogged West Ham United into fifth.
Early blows but first 45 ends evenly
Guests Everton showed no sign of stage fright after Charlton’s celebrations, looking most comfortable of the two clubs on Old Trafford turf.
Early blows were traded with a degree of caution, as the pressing of wingman Aaron Lennon and daring of Gerard Deulofeu almost caused the Red Devils’ undoing early on.
Lively Lennon once again looked a Toffees bargain as the Englishman picked Daley Blind’s pocket, but United-linked Romelu Lukaku had his head in the clouds and overran the ball, allowing Chris Smalling to crucially step in and clear.
A dangerous Deulofeu dribble, meanwhile, turned Marcos Rojo before the Catalan skipped past several defenders into the box, forcing a strong Morgan Schneiderlin clearance.
As for the Red Devils, attacking duo Martial and Marcus Rashford were easily the home side’s biggest forward threats, with the latter seeing attempts to shoot and then cross rebound off Phil Jagielka and revived John Stones respectively.
While, Martial certainly had a sprinkling of magic in his boots, taking matters into his own hands by gliding in-field to pick up the ball and instigate an attack, curling just wide after a slight nick from Leighton Baines.
Stones shines in art of defence
It was a first 45 in which a much-maligned Toffees rearguard responded to recent setbacks, although early toothless Man Utd perhaps made Roberto Martinez’s men look more effective.
United were somewhat shaken into attacking after Lukaku capitalised on a Smalling slip, forcing alert David de Gea to rush out of net and intercept the loose ball before the intimidating Belgian could bound goal-ward.
From then on the Red Devils cranked up the gears a little, as rampaging Rojo forced Seamus Coleman into an expertly timed tackle, before oft-criticised Stones slid in superbly to stop Martial dispatching after slick link-up play with Rashford, keeping proceedings at a stalemate before the break.
Magnificent Martial makes it 1000
Martinez’s men dominated after the interim, but it was that man Martial who once again sprang to Man Utd’s rescue, scoring the club’s 1000th Premier League Old Trafford goal 54 minutes in to the match.
It was Schneiderlin that pinged a Michael Carrick-esque pass from deep to pick out Juan Mata who collected classily, before laying the ball off for Rashford to brilliantly backheel to half-time substitute and fellow academy graduate Timothy Fosu-Mensah.
The determined young Dutchman drove forward with a low and sweeping shot-cross reaching lurking Martial at the far post, as Coleman failed to clear the danger and, in typically cool style, the Frenchman finished with panache.
Frenetic finish in front of home fans
This seemed to spur the match back into action as, just moments later Jagielka came within in inches of an equaliser, agonisingly cracking his diving header off the crossbar, having slipped away from Schneiderlin.
While, soon after Jesse Lingard had the chance to make it 2-0 at the other end, but as the midfielder slid in he failed to connect strongly enough to breach the Toffees’ net.
A few more half-chances apiece followed in a typically frenzied and feisty end to this Northwest derby, with Jagielka’s close-range effort notably repelled instinctively by defiant De Gea, and more bite was also injected into the midfield battle by the arrival of Ander Herrera.
Confident Stones also slipped a stupendous ball out wide to Coleman, but the Irishman’s accurate cross was missed by Lukaku, with Fosu-Mensah again impressing (but this time at the opposite end of the pitch) with his off-the-cuff clearance.
It was a nervy last few moments to the match, with end-to-end attacking intent, but Man Utd held out to aptly reward Charlton’s day and keep up the pressure on the Sky Blue side of Manchester. While, Everton head home to Merseyside, perhaps unfairly on merit, without a point to show…