Manchester United put a smile back on Jose Mourinho’s face as fine goals from Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard sealed a 2-0 win over Everton.
Martial started in the absence of the injured Romelu Lukaku and the United forward broke the deadlock in the 57th minute at Goodison Park.
Paul Pogba teed up Martial on the edge of the area and he stroked a sublime finish into the top corner for his ninth goal of the season.
Having struggled towards the end of 2017, United were more commanding in their first match of the new year and Lingard wrapped up the points with a superb solo strike in the 81st minute.
Here, we focus on Martial’s performance.
Minutes – 77
Goals – 1
Assists – 0
Shots – 2 (1)
Dribbles – 0
Passes – 26
Key passes – 2
Pass Accuracy – 80.8%
Touches – 44
The striker capped off a mixed performance with an outstanding second half goal.
He looked off colour in the first half, failing to hold the ball up and instead trying to do it all himself rather than take the simple option of passing to a teammate.
Although he has the physicality to take on a strong centre back, the Frenchman is not a striker, and needs to be played on the left with Marcus Rashford up top in the absence of Romelu Lukaku.
With seven goals and three assists in 11 Premier League games this term, the elusive Martial warrants a place in Jose Mourinho’s starting team but needs to be employed in a left wing role.
29th min: Some loose defending from the hosts allowed space to open up down the left, and Martial collected possession and flashed the ball across the face of the goal, but Jordan Pickford reacted quickest to palm away.
55th min: A beauty of a goal. Paul Pogba raced down the left, drew in a defender and played the ball across to Martial on the edge of the box. The Frenchman took one touch and curled a sumptuous effort into the top corner.
65th min: He came bounding down the left, cut in and tries to find Pogba at the far post, but the skipper is inches from getting his head to it.
He didn’t receive great service in the first half but showed signs of his class after netting a goal midway through the second period.
He played too deep and held the ball for too long – something the 22-year-old can’t afford to do against bigger opposition.
Overall, good signs from the Frenchman but he really needs to step up over the coming weeks to prove his worth to Mourinho – who doesn’t seem to like to play him regularly in his starting XI.
Leading through Sadio Mane‘s brilliant second-half strike, the Reds conceded an 87th-minute equaliser when substitute Sam Vokes flicked on a cross for Johann Berg Gudmundsson to nod in unmarked from three yards.
However, Ragnar Klavan – one of the playsers most under threat after Van Dijk’s arrival was officially confirmed on Monday – was the unlikely match-winner when he popped up at the far post to nod in from close range.
“I was never in doubt about the character of my boys,” said Klopp.
“I never thought we had a defence problem or thought we need an extra player though Virgil will help us a lot.
“We are fourth in the table, absolutely OK. We need to keep the distance not bigger to the teams ahead of us, if we can make it smaller then it is better.”
With three of Liverpool’s ‘Fab Four’ absent – top scorer Mohamed Salah (groin) and Philippe Coutinho (groin) injured and Roberto Firmino rested – more responsibility was placed on Mane and he delivered.
It was only his second league goal since August but despite injury worries over two of his star players Klopp is happy to allow the Senegal international – and Salah – to fly Ghana for the Confederation of African football Player of the Year awards on Thursday, 24 hours before a Merseyside derby FA Cup tie at home to Everton.
“We have everything organised. We have two of the three best African players in our squad,” added Klopp.
“We have to show them respect. If it had been a matchday they wouldn’t have asked. We sleep in a hotel, they sleep in a plane. That is all the difference.
“If Mo is not fit, it will not be for that. For our side, it is just a sign of respect. I had (Pierre-Emerick) Aubameyang (at Borussia Dortmund) and there is nothing more important than to go there.
“Sadio is unbelievably important for us. He is strong, quick, so many things. He scores a goal like this and it is like ‘Wow’.
“He comes into the dressing room and the whole team gives him a hand. We need him, we need him so much for all teams coming.
“I am happy because I had a lot of players with moments where it wasn’t clicking and he still scores.”
Manchester United striker Romelu Lukaku will be sidelined for just a single week following his head injury, according to Old Trafford boss Jose Mourinho on Monday.
Lukaku, who has scored 15 times this season, was stretchered off against Southampton on Saturday following a clash of heads with Wesley Hoedt.
That ruled Lukaku out of Monday’s trip to his former club Everton and he is set to be absent for the FA Cup third round tie with Derby on Friday.
Speaking prior to the Everton match, Mourinho told Sky Sports: “I would say a week (out for Lukaku).
“It’s nothing really important – just a little protection, but no problem.”
United’s next Premier League game, at home to Stoke, isn’t for 10 days after the Derby game, giving Lukaku time to return for that fixture.
Lukaku crashed into Southampton’s Wesley Hoedt on December 30 as the pair contested an aerial challenge early in the first half at Old Trafford.
The Belgium striker lay prone on the pitch barely moving while he was treated by medical staff for five minutes.
Lukaku remained conscious and was eventually carried off wearing an oxygen mask.