“He looked like a £100 million player,” Owen Hargreaves told BT Sport after Manchester United’s win over FC Copenhagen. He was talking about Anthony Martial.
In addition to describing him as a Ferrari of United’s attack, Hargreaves joined Paul Scholes who labelled him ‘unplayable’, and Robin van Persie who exclaimed, ‘wow, what a player’.
It was safe to say the former Red Devils’ contingent on punditry duty were impressed. And how could they not be?
Everything but a goal
Martial did not add to his tally of 23 goals for the season, but he certainly tried. He was a constant threat as goalkeeper Karl-Jonas Johnsson had the game of his life.
Johnsson made one full-stretch save from a trademark curling effort from Martial, and another one-on-one stop shortly before the Frenchman was brought down for the penalty.
His dribbling was too much for FC Copenhagen to contain. At times he glided past opponents as if they were not there, while others had to make desperate last ditch tackles to deny him.
He was fouled four times during the game, which included winning the decisive penalty.
At times Martial was perhaps guilty of taking one too many touches as he looked for a perfect goal, when scrappy would have done. But it was great to watch.
Martial made five successful dribbles in total, more than any player on the pitch. To do this from the centre-forward position is most unusual and shows his unique characteristics.
Martial’s dribbling helped create space for others. When he got into a position to pass, he did not panic.
Martial created three goalscoring chances, a number bettered only by Brandon Williams from left-back.
But what was really impressive was Martial ending the match with a 100 per cent pass completion rate.
That is a rare feat for any player in any position during a 90 minute match, let alone a 120 minute game.
It shows how switched on Martial was at all times, to pick out the right ball when he was required to.
United now need him to reproduce this level of performance in the semi-final, and potentially the final. The great aspect of Martial’s game over the past few weeks has been his consistency. We now expect him to deliver in each and every game, and he finds a way to do so.
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