Martial hungry for more hat tricks; Solskjaer hails Pogba
Anthony Martial hopes his first Manchester United hat trick is the first of many.
The French striker scored three against Sheffield United on Wednesday as Manchester United eased past their close rivals in the Premier League to move just two points behind fourth-place Chelsea (who have a game in hand against Man City on Thursday).
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Speaking to our partners Sky Sports after the game, Martial was asked about his first career hat trick and becoming the first Man United player since Robin van Persie in 2013 to score a hat trick in the Premier League.
“It was special for me because it is my first one and I hope it is not the last,” Martial said. “The most important thing was the win so everyone is happy. Maybe, it was a long time that nobody scored three goals. When I say the most important was the win against a team that was just behind us. It is important that we keep going and win the next one.”
Martial was twice set up by Marcus Rashford, while Paul Pogba and Bruno Fernandes purred behind them and Mason Greenwood was sharp in a fabulous front five rolled out to start by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Sheffield United had no answer to the movement, clinical finishing and creativity of the Manchester United quintet.
“Today we created enough to win by more,” Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said afterwards. “Other games we’ve created enough to win them but we haven’t taken them. We need to take the chances, the last pass, be aggressive and progressive enough with our passing.”
Solskjaer praised Martial for his patience and movements in the box, while he also single out Pogba for special praise. The midfielder returned for his first start in the Premier League since Dec. 26 and had plenty of flicks, tricks and slick passing to dictate the tempo of the game alongside Fernandes.
“Paul, he’s quality out there,” Solskjaer said. “He settled us. Good decision making, good passing, hard to take the ball off him. Paul, I’m very pleased we can get minutes into him and let’s see what we do in the weeks coming.”
With fifth place likely to be a Champions League spot this season -- Man City have appealed their two-year UEFA ban and are due to find out if that was successful in mid-July -- Manchester United are in an almighty scrap with Chelsea, Wolves and Tottenham for fourth and fifth place. Heck, even third-place Leicester City may be dragged into this as they are just six points ahead of the Red Devils.
Martial’s hat trick proved that Manchester United have the x-factor over their rivals right now and if Rashford, Fernandes, Pogba and Greenwood can stay fit and in form, you’d fancy United to breeze past opponents for the rest of the season.
On paper Manchester United have the easiest remaining schedule of any Premier League team and it will be intriguing to see if they are so cavalier and Solskjaer picks the same ultra-attacking lineup week in, week out.
If you look at their remaining schedule, five of their seven games are against teams in the bottom seven. Watch out, here come Manchester United.