Anthony Martial scored a memorable debut goal as Manchester United beat old enemies Liverpool 3-1 at Old Trafford on Saturday to claim second place in the Premier League table.
The 19-year-old French striker signed from Monaco on transfer deadline day for a reported initial fee of £36 million ($55.1 million, 49 million euros), making him the world’s most expensive teenager, and he was quick to make his mark after coming on as a substitute for Juan Mata.
Christian Benteke had just halved United’s two-goal lead with a sensational overhead bicycle kick when Martial picked the ball up wide on the left, tip-toed between three defenders and tucked a shot into the bottom-right corner in front of the Stretford End.
Second-half goals from Daley Blind and Ander Herrera had put United in control and Martial’s strike provided the perfect finale to an evening that had begun with David de Gea returning to the United goal following the collapse of his move to Real Madrid.
Victory saw Louis van Gaal’s side return to winning ways following their 2-1 defeat at Swansea City and left them in second place, above Arsenal on goal difference and five points below leaders Manchester City.
Benteke’s breath-taking goal had briefly given Liverpool hope, but instead manager Brendan Rodgers was left to reflect on a second successive defeat following their 3-0 loss at home to West Ham United. Wayne Rooney returned to Manchester this week having created a piece of history in mid-week by scoring a record-breaking 50th England goal, but he was ruled out by injury, so Marouane Fellaini started up front with Martial on the bench.
There were cheers for De Gea as he took his place in goal and the Spaniard was given a gentle re-introduction to life at Old Trafford as United immediately put the visitors on the back foot. It was from a mistake by De Gea’s opposite number Simon Mignolet that United’s best first-half chance stemmed, the Belgian bowling the ball straight at Mata, but although the ball fell kindly at Fellaini’s feet, the former Everton midfielder chipped well over.
United made a change at the interval, Ashley Young replacing Memphis Depay, and the substitute was quick to make his presence felt, darting between two Liverpool defenders on the left and winning a free-kick that yielded the opening goal.