Anthony Martial endured some growing pains last season as he adjusted to the demands of Jose Mourinho, but the Manchester United attacker has hit the ground running this season.
The Frenchman, who scored only five goals across all competitions all of last season, has already matched that tally after grabbing United’s second on Wednesday night in their Champions League tie against CSKA Moscow.
This had the potential to be a banana-skin fixture for United, as trips to Russia are never easy, but Martial produced a stunning display to lead a United rout.
Along with his goal, he assisted two Romelu Lukaku goals, while Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored from a Martial shot that was saved.
Here’s an in-depth look at the United man’s stellar display in Moscow.
Goals – 1
Assists – 2
Shots – 2
Dribbles – 6
Passes – 31
Key passes – 5
Pass accuracy – 84%
Touches – 61
Martial is nearly unplayable when he’s in this form. He tormented the CSKA defence, largely from his berth on the left wing as he cut in from that flank time and again to devastating effect.
He popped up on the opposite wing as well on occasion, and even found himself in the centre of the attacking line at times. Martial was everywhere, and wherever he went he was unstoppable.
4th min: This is what’s expected of Martial when he plays on the wing. Always adept at cutting in from the left and dribbling past defenders, he did exactly that and then picked out Lukaku with a perfect cross to produce United’s opener.
19th min: It seems Martial has moved ahead of Lukaku in the pecking order when it comes to penalties. Having scored from the spot against Everton in the Premier League a couple of weeks ago, he was on penalty duty again and made no mistake
27th min: Similar to his first assist, albeit much more fortunate. Yet again, Martial cut in from the left and fashioned a cross. This one was underhit, but CSKA defender Vasili Berezutski completely missed the ball when trying to clear, leaving Lukaku with a tap-in.
Our verdict: 9/10
The only blot on Martial’s book on Wednesday was his failure to convert when through on goal in the second half. It goes to show how good a night he had, however, that even that resulted in a goal, as Mkhitaryan swept home the rebound. This was Martial at his best, continuing his strong start to the season.
Big guns Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus, Barcelona and Chelsea all registered wins in the Champions League on Wednesday night.
The fixtures produced some quality performances as well along with a few disappointing ones.
Here’s a look at three good and three bad performers from the night.
Manchester United strolled to a 4-0 win away to CSKA Moscow and the man at the centre of it all was Anthony Martial. The Frenchman was given a start ahead of Marcus Rashford on the night and took full advantage.
He was involved in all four goals for the visitors, setting up Romelu Lukaku with crosses for the first and third goals. The 21-year-old clearly slotted away the second from the spot after Henrikh Mkhitaryan won the penalty before the Armenian turned in the rebound from his effort in the second half.
The Frenchman created five chances, registered two assists, a goal and six assists, all neatly wrapped up in a one scintillating performance before he limped off in the 72nd minute.
The score sheet features Dani Alves, Edinson Cavani and Neymar for PSG in their 3-1 win against Bayern Munich but make no mistake about it, Kylian Mbappe was arguably the most threatening player on the pitch.
He’s 18, new to the club and playing in a star-studded line-up but that hasn’t seen him shine any less bright than he did as the main man at AS Monaco. Mbappe terrorised the Bayern defenders and set up Cavani for a superb goal to make it 2-0.
Having created three glorious chances, he should’ve had a couple of more assists as well had his teammates been a bit more clinical. He went off to a well deserved standing ovation in the 79th minute.
Eden Hazard is just returning to full match fitness after missing the start of the season but you wouldn’t have guessed it from his performance away to Atletico Madrid.
The Belgian star was a constant threat to the hosts, wriggling free of challenges, leaving defenders for dead and setting up Alvaro Morata for the equaliser after Antoine Griezmann opened the scoring from the spot.
He created a total of seven chances and completed six take-ons before being replaced in the 81st minute after which Michy Batshuayi went on to snatch the winner in stoppage time.
The German was a disappointment on the night as Bayern lost 3-1 in Paris. He should’ve hit the target when PSG went to sleep from a corner and Kimmich drilled a ball into him at the near post but he could only steer it wide.
David Alaba put in a delightful cross for him in the 21st minute but the Bavarian skipper’s header was off target from a promising position.
Apart from a few flicks and throughballs that didn’t really come off, Muller was anonymous for the rest of the game.
CSKA were humbled in their own backyard as United strolled to 4-1 win. Lukaku bagged a brace on the night but the victory for the away side also had plenty to do with a poor defensive display from the hosts.
Vasili Berezutski was at the heart of that defence and was largely to blame. The centre back won just one aerial battle all night as Lukaku dominated the back-line.
The Russian defender is the most experienced in that defence but did little to marshal the back three and instead committed a schoolboy error as he completely missed his clearance, allowing Lukaku to steal in at the back post and tap into an empty net for United’s third goal, which killed off the tie.
Partnering Jeremy Mathieu in central defence, Sebastian Coates struggled to match his teammate’s solid display. He made no clearances in the game while the former Barcelona man made five.
The Uruguayan was poor on the ball, being dispossessed on four occasions. There isn’t much he could’ve done about the own goal he conceded as it bounced off him and into the net but he wasn’t tight enough to his man when the set-piece was delivered.
He picked up a booking just before the hour mark as well which didn’t do him any favours as Barcelona secured a 1-0 win.
Chelsea play Atletico Madrid in Champions League Group C on Wednesday night.
Here Press Association Sport looks at the Spanish side in focus.
Striker Diego Costa finally has been granted his wish to return to Atletico after three years and two Premier League titles with Chelsea. The Brazil-born Spain striker will be reunited with Diego Simeone, the much admired Atletico boss best remembered by English audiences for being the recipient of David Beckham’s petulant kick in England’s second-round loss to Argentina at the 1998 World Cup.
Simeone has never lost to English opposition as a coach, winning three of the five contests.
As well as Costa, who will be able to play for Atletico again once their transfer embargo is lifted in January, there are other familiar faces in opposition. Filipe Luis and Fernando Torres, plus Tiago, who is now an assistant coach, all had spells at Stamford Bridge.
Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois spent three years on loan at Atletico from Chelsea, winning La Liga in 2013-14. Radamel Falcao, now at Monaco, had a successful spell at Atletico and an underwhelming one at Chelsea.
Chelsea have one win in five European games against Atletico – the first meeting in October 2009. The sides most recently met in the 2013-14 semi-finals.
Courtois was permitted to play under UEFA rules. Goalless after the first leg, Atletico won 3-1 at Stamford Bridge to advance to a Madrid derby in the Lisbon final.
Real Madrid won La Decima (their 10th European Cup), after more than a decade of trying. But Atletico had won the league title for the first time in 18 years, breaking the Real-Barcelona hegemony.
Atletico are unbeaten in 11 games in all competitions, including the final four matches of last season. They opened their Champions League campaign with a goalless draw at Roma.
Atletico have conceded one goal in their last five games following last Saturday’s 2-0 win over Sevilla at the Metropolitano.
Chelsea may be envious of Atletico’s modern new home. Los Rojiblancos moved from the fabulous but crumbling Vincente Calderon Stadium this season, playing their first home match at their new ground on September 16 – a 1-0 win over Malaga.
Chelsea are considering a rebuild of Stamford Bridge and would likely welcome the influx of foreign investment which has seen Chinese conglomerate Wanda sponsor the Metropolitano.