Edinson Cavani became the fourth player to start up front for Manchester United this season in the win over Istanbul Basaksehir.
Cavani, 33, has a better goalscoring record than any of his teammates over his illustrious career and his performance showed he has still got it.
The Uruguayan was a constant menace as he did everything but score, with an effective performance leading the line.
Cavani starting up front works well, and one of the reasons he was so effective was because of the way Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford worked on either side of him.
Both players were a consistent threat in their familiar but re-adapted roles.
Martial was playing out on the left wing for the first time in more than a year.
During his time as a striker he often would interchange with Marcus Rashford and drift into this position, but this was the first time he had been named as a starter on the left.
It was a reflection on his struggles in front of goal this season too, and Cavani’s superior movement and experience in a central role.
Marcus Rashford was positioned out on the right wing. It is a role he has played in before, although rarely recently.
Both Rashford and Martial responded to their positional shift with vigour. They embraced the challenge and provided an attacking threat.
Both players a menace for defences
Rashford did not allow Istanbul Basaksehir a moment’s rest until he was substituted. He nearly scored in the second minute after a magnificent solo run, only for his shot to lack power.
The England international won the penalty from which he scored, had two shots on target and created one chance.
Rashford had three successful dribbles, a number matched only by Anthony Martial on the opposite side.
Between them, Martial and Rashford had six take-ons, the same number as the Basaksehir side managed combined.
Martial won five free-kicks as the Turkish side struggled to contain him.
With Alex Telles taking the set pieces from the left side, this has the potential to be a useful combination for United.
Telles got forward a lot and his average position on the pitch was right up alongside Martial’s. Between the pair, they constantly asked questions of the defence.
The one thing Martial did not manage was to get into a goalscoring position. He did not take any shots, with the ball not falling his way on the night. This is something for him to work on.
What was encouraging was his work rate. Martial made two interceptions, the joint highest in the United team.
Debate will rage on whether Martial is better as a striker or a left winger. Many believe it is the latter, although his 23 goals from centre-forward last season should not be so easily dismissed.
What was encouraging was how Martial and Rashford adapted to their new roles so quickly, and United may now have a new first choice front three.
- Predicted Manchester United line-up v Liverpool
- Solskjaer praises development of full backs Shaw and Wan-Bissaka
- Solskjaer has reportedly rejected loan bids for van de Beek, Tuanzebe and Williams
- Cavani is finally bringing success to Manchester United’s number 7 shirt
- Loan for Facundo Pellistri can work if it fast-tracks his United success
- Fred’s late battling shows why he is so important to United
- Mark Lawrenson is expecting Manchester United to beat Liverpool
- Amad Diallo’s Manchester United debut is looking more and more likely
- Three Portugal based players Manchester United should be monitoring