Manchester United’s £36m teenager Anthony Martial marked his debut in sensational fashion with a stunning goal as Liverpool were beaten at Old Trafford.
Christian Benteke’s equally stunning overhead kick had thrown Liverpool a lifeline after Daley Blind’s crisp finish and Ander Herrera’s penalty had put Louis van Gaal’s side in control.
It was the signal for Martial, the 19-year-old signed from Monaco on deadline day, to make himself an instant hero after coming on as a second-half substitute, slaloming between Nathaniel Clyne and Martin Skrtel before a composed finish in front of the Stretford End.
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United keeper David De Gea, making his first appearance of the season after signing a new four-year contract following the breakdown of his move to Real Madrid, demonstrated his worth with fine saves from Danny Ings and Jordon Ibe.
Liverpool, however, were uncharacteristically tame for a fixture against their fierce rivals and the win lifts United into second place in the Premier League table behind Manchester City.
An Old Trafford hero is born
Old Trafford gave a rousing welcome to the world’s most expensive teenager when Martial replaced Juan Mata after 65 minutes – and he electrified the “Theatre Of Dreams” 21 minutes later with a moment of sheer brilliance.
Martial had barely touched the ball but came alive with a run that took him between Clyne and Skrtel, the latter left twisting and turning hopelessly in the youngster’s wake as he tucked a composed low finish past Liverpool keeper Simon Mignolet.
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It was the impetuosity of youth but also the sign of quality. The comparisons have been made with fellow countryman Thierry Henry – and it was a goal the great man would have been happy to claim as his own.