Anthony Martial Brace Rallies Manchester United Past Newcastle

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistDecember 26, 2019

Manchester United's French striker Anthony Martial celebrates after scoring his second goal, the team's fourth during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Newcastle United at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on December 26, 2019. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. /  (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images)
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Manchester United moved up to seventh in the Premier League after beating Newcastle United 4-1 at Old Trafford on Boxing Day.

Anthony Martial scored twice, while Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood also found the net for the Red Devils, who had gone one down when Matty Longstaff gave Newcastle a surprise 17th-minute lead.

United responded well after Sunday's miserable 2-0 defeat away to Watford. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's team are now four points adrift of fourth-place Chelsea, although Wolverhampton Wanderers have played a game fewer and can go back above United with a win over Manchester City on Friday.

United spent most of the opening stages camped in and around the Newcastle area, but it was the visitors who should've gone in front on 15 minutes. Joelinton played Dwight Gayle in behind, but the striker inexplicably lifted his effort over.

It was a poor effort, but the hosts didn't heed the warning about how easily Newcastle were creating chances. Joelinton was at the heart of things again when the Magpies did find the net on 17 minutes, teeing up Longstaff to finish smartly into the bottom corner:

Amazon Prime Video Sport @primevideosport

"Black and white lightning strikes twice!" Matty Longstaff just loves playing against Man Utd ⚫️⚪️ #PLonPrime #MUNNEW https://t.co/wjBvXUvnC6

NBC Sports Soccer @NBCSportsSoccer

2 Premier League goals 2 against Manchester United Take a bow @mattylobby48 👏 https://t.co/zZfM18qx7q

United were rattled, but the home side was offered an unlikely reprieve from usually reliable Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka. The stopper's weak parry allowed Martial's near-post effort to squirm in for an undeserved equaliser:

Amazon Prime Video Sport @primevideosport

Martial makes it 1️⃣-1️⃣ Newcastle's lead only lasted 7 minutes. Game on. #PLonPrime #MUNNEW https://t.co/mhl4zYFis7

NBC Sports Soccer @NBCSportsSoccer

🔥 MARTIAL 🔥 https://t.co/Q6swVTkSsN

Fortune favoured United again when Scott McTominay, who needed less than 30 seconds to be booked following a reckless lunge into Sean Longstaff, somehow escaped a second yellow, despite obviously pulling Miguel Almiron back.

There may have been question marks about the base of midfield, but United were playing well at the tip of it. In particular, Andreas Pereira was finding space on the turn and releasing Martial with some smart passes.

Pereira was impressing, but he soon joined McTominay in the book after a wild challenge on Fabian Schar. Ironically, it was the latter who made the game's next costly mistake when he gifted possession to Greenwood, allowing the precocious 18-year-old to finish in style for his second league goal in three matches:

Amazon Prime Video Sport @primevideosport

Wow, what a strike 🚀 Mason Greenwood punishes #NUFC after a loose ball from Schar #PLonPrime #MUNNEW https://t.co/zM2Dhge5lu

NBC Sports Soccer @NBCSportsSoccer

MASON GREENWOOD 😳😳😳 https://t.co/lTtz9P7PmL

Greenwood's fellow forward Rashford made it 3-1 four minutes before the break after rising to head in Aaron Wan-Bissaka's lofted cross. Rashford's proficiency in front of goal has been the one constant of United's season.

OptaJoe @OptaJoe

11 - Marcus Rashford has now scored 11 league goals in 19 games this season - his best return in a single @premierleague campaign, one more than he managed in 33 appearances in 2018-19. Improving. #MUNNEW https://t.co/ZdAa2gHJol

Solskjaer wisely replaced McTominay with Paul Pogba at the break, and the latter soon fired a rasping shot narrowly wide of the post mere moments after the restart.

United took an easier chance when Martial profited from a misplaced back-pass from Sean Longstaff to lift the ball over Dubravka. Martial has his critics, but he's been more comfortable in the No. 9 role this season:

Statman Dave @StatmanDave

Anthony Martial in the PL this season: • 12 starts • 7 goals • 3 assists 0.8 goal involvements per game. 🇫🇷 https://t.co/usP0o4zvBu

A first senior hat-trick eluded the former AS Monaco man when he dragged a shot onto the inside of the post with Dubravka beaten. Fellow goalscorer Rashford then made way for Jesse Lingard, while Martial soon followed suit, replaced by Juan Mata.

United's refreshed numbers kept the pressure on, but aside from a Harry Maguire sighter, there was little in the way of clear-cut chances for the hosts, who had long ago put the result beyond doubt.

Newcastle offered little resistance after a bright start, but United's goalscoring trio provided a reminder the future can still be bright on Solskjaer's watch.


What's Next?

Newcastle host Everton in the Premier League on Saturday, while United are away to Burnley on the same day.