It was a year ago that Anthony Martial was starting for France after really earning the call, after a strong 2020/21 season for Manchester United.
He failed to seize his chance, missing numerous chances and an international goal drought since 2016 continued.
This week Martial was incredibly fortunate to get called into the France squad, let alone to start.
Martial did start last night for France away at Ukraine with Kylian Mbappe out injured, Olivier Giroud unavailable and Karim Benzema benched.
Gloriously for Martial, he ended his five-year international goal drought by scoring in the 1-1 draw, doubling his Les Bleus tally from one to two.
Back on track
Prior to last night’s game, Martial had only one goal in 28 caps, including 14 starts.
Speaking after the game, Martial expressed his relief. He told L’Equipe: “It’s been a long time since I scored so it does me a lot of good.”
It will do him good for Manchester United too. This was his first goal since a brace in the 9-0 win over Southampton at the start of February.
It is nice that France may be the ones to restore Martial’s form, after he got injured playing for them back in March.
But don’t get carried away. This was not a vintage performance from Martial, not that he will mind, he has his goal.
Goal got him out of trouble
Martial had played a role in Ukraine scoring just minutes earlier. He missed a chance before and the home side took advantage, going on to score at the other end.
Martial made up for it shortly after, scoring from close range to ensure France left Kiev with a point.
The 25-year-old forward’s performance was not entirely convincing, with just 26 touches before he was substituted on 63 minutes.
L’Equipe wrote: “Martial, a mixed match but an important goal,” adding, “It cannot be said that the Manchester United striker has frankly convinced.”
France TV Info wrote: “He has fifteen months left to show much more and validate his ticket for the 2022 World Cup where the Blues, struggling in their qualifying group, hope to defend their world title.”
Le Parisien noted that Martial was too ‘isolated’ up front and ‘didn’t give up’ after earlier misses before his goal, commending his persistence.
France have one more match left to play, against Finland on Tuesday night. Martial will hope he did enough to retain his place.
Scoring will have lifted his confidence, and while Ronaldo’s return means United are not short of attacking options, a resurgent Martial would be most welcome at Old Trafford.
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